In what racetrack operators call the largest capital investment at the Meadows in 50 years, five new barns have been built. Other improvements include a new race paddock, paved roads and upgrades to existing barns.
State Representative Brandon Neuman (D-North Strabane) was on hand for a dedication ceremony for the new barns on Thursday. He pointed to a sign outside one of them and said, "If you look right here, it says 'Belle Vernon, Pennsylvania.' That's one of the most important things about this investment: it's local jobs, it's local stables, it's local people making a living wage."
The improvements were privately funded by the Meadows' parent company, Cannery Casino Resorts, as part of a requirement of Pennsylvania Act 71. The law, enacted in 2004, directs a portion of slots revenues to be spent on so-called backside improvements at racetracks. The Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board said Act 71 has now generated more than $5 billion for the commonwealth.
"And that money has been split into property tax relief — about $3.5 billion has gone to property tax relief. We've got another almost billion dollars that have gone to the horse racing industry. We also have economic development projects like the Penguins' arena and the Pittsburgh Airport," said Greg Fajt, a member of the Control Board.
In all, the Meadows backside consists of 70 acres with 22 barns, which host about 840 stalls, three blacksmith shops, and two tack shops, among other things. President of Meadows Racing Mike Jeannot said the state of the art facilities allow for the best care for the horses. He added that keeps western Pennsylvania at the top of the horse racing game, which benefits the region because of the revenue it generates.