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New York confirms plans for $1bn Belmont Park racing makeover

| By Richard Mulligan
New York’s governor, Kathy Hochul, has confirmed plans for the $1bn transformation of the historic Belmont Park racecourse.

The project, which will include the construction of a completely new grandstand, will be complete in 2026. The majority of work will be concluded during the first quarter of 2026 with the building ready later that year.

Governor Hochul said the new 275,000 sq ft grandstand will offer “the modern amenities and hospitality offerings fans now expect”. New York Racing Association (NYRA), which will oversee construction, has now released a series of renderings ahead of commencement.

New renderings of the transformed belmont park have been released

The demolition of the current Belmont Park grandstand/clubhouse is slated to begin in March and will continue through early July. This summer’s Belmont Stakes Racing Festival will be held at Saratoga to allow for uninterrupted construction at Belmont Park.

New York authorities said the multi-year project will generate $1bn in construction-related economic benefits and create 3,700 construction-related jobs. The New York authorities are providing the NYRA with a $455m loan to fund the project. Following the return of racing in 2026, activities at the new facility will generate $155m in annual economic output. Some $10m in new state and local tax revenue per year will also be generated.

“The redevelopment of Belmont Park is a critical investment in one of New York’s most historic sporting venues,” Governor Hochul said. “The new facility will support year-round racing, thousands of new jobs for Long Islanders and provide an enhanced experience for customers attending the iconic Belmont Stakes for generations to come.”

A view of the transformed Belmont Park

Belmont Park hopeful of hosting Breeders’ Cup

NYRA has developed a plan that will allow for the Belmont Stakes to return in June 2026 prior to the full opening of the new building in September 2026. Although a venue for the 2026 Breeders’ Cup World Championships has yet to be determined, the new Belmont Park will be complete and ready to host the 2026 Breeders’ Cup should the opportunity arise. The Breeders’ Cup has announced its commitment to add Belmont to its list of host venues following NYRA’s modernisation of the facility.

The new grandstand, which is being designed by Populous, will increase the amount of unstructured green space available to fans. The overall footprint of the building is reduced from its current 1.25 million sq foot.

While the venue will have the same 50,000-person capacity, the layout has been adjusted to accommodate flexible seasonal attendance.

NYRA president and CEO David O’Rourke said: “The transformation of Belmont Park will secure the future of thoroughbred racing. It will create thousands of jobs and drive tourism to Long Island and the region for decades to come. NYRA is committed to building a world-class destination that will set the global standard for a racing facility. We thank Governor Hochul for the opportunity to completely re-imagine Belmont.”

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