QUEENSLAND racing boss Bob Bentley has agreed to meet with the Gold Coast Turf Club (GCTC) board on April 27 following a proposal put forward by the club.
The proposal would result in upgrades to the GCTC to be fully funded by the Club and the State Government.
GCTC chairman Andrew Eggleston believes the proposal would be a win-win for both parties and the Queensland thoroughbred racing community – as long as ‘there was no grab for the asset’. He hoped that Bentley would also bring his full board to the meeting once arranged.
“This is a really good deal and Queensland Racing should be jumping at the idea to get this for the industry,” says Eggleston.
"The Board is eagerly awaiting a reply from Mr Bentley on this exciting proposal and will be available to meet with QR at their earliest convenience.
“Our proposal sees Queensland Racing leasing the racing and training areas of the racecourse from the Club on a long-term basis for a nominal amount, with Queensland Racing taking control of those functions of the racecourse during the lease period.”
The GCTC has written to the Minister for Tourism and Fair Trading Peter Lawlor, seeking input and support in playing a hands-on role in facilitating discussions and negotiations between the parties.
Eggleston says it would be a ‘sad day if the racing minister could not be involved’.
“Former Racing Minister Russ Hinze would be turning in his grave if he knew that the current minister said ‘it has nothing to do with me’. The government needs to be responsible for their actions,” he says.
But Lawlor says he has already spoken with the representatives from Magic Millions, Gold Coast Turf Club and Queensland Racing Limited urging all parties to sort it out for the future of the event on the Gold Coast.
"The Queensland Government has offered up over $80m to the Racing Industry to upgrade critical infrastructure. A huge portion of this is to go to the Gold Coast for a major redevelopment of its track," he says.
"All parties need to get on with their job of planning the redevelopment and doing everything in their power to keep Magic Millions on the Gold Coast. The Government is not involved in race date allocations and commercial arrangements internal to the racing industry which has been independent of the government since 2002.”
GCTC's proposal would mean;
The Turf Club leases its racetrack, training facilities and stabling area to Queensland Racing (QR) on a 50-year-lease for a nominal sum of $1.00 per annum;
The Queensland State Government’s current $40 million commitment to the GCTC upgrade funds renovations to the course proper, a new synthetic track, lighting and training track infrastructure;
The GCTC funds and upgrades grandstands, member facilities and corporate entertainment areas totaling $20 – $25 million (funded by savings from racetrack and training costs).
Queensland Racing could save up to $32 million of the proposed $72 million allocated for upgrades, following the GCTC’s offer to manage off-track facilities and infrastructure.
Turf Club officials say the $32 million could then be directed towards prizemoney for not only the Gold Coast Turf Club, but all thoroughbred racing clubs in Queensland.
Eggleston says it would free up funds to top up local prize money, where there has not been an increase since 2007.
“This proposal could at least give owners a glimmer of hope toward prizemoney increases,” he says.
“Our suggestion is that funding earmarked for the Gold Coast Turf Club facility, that was to be sourced from Queensland Racing reserves – money that would have been put by Queensland Racing into development of the assets that we will now retain - be immediately invested in prizemoney across Queensland.”
Eggleston says the new proposal would safeguard the GCTC as a racing and training facility for the next 50 years and the argument of a sale further down the track is taken out of the equation.
The board of the GCTC believes that the Club should have a financial input into the project demonstrated by its commitment to fund $20 – $25 million towards the upgrade.
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