HENDERSON, Ky. (WFIE) - Less than a year ago, 14 News learned longtime Ellis Park owner Ron Geary was selling the racetrack. Saratoga Casino and Hospitality group was buying it and the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission had just signed off on the purchase.
“Kind of seen some things come and go at Ellis,” Henderson Mayor Steve Austin said. “Some of it worked out real well, some not so well.”
Fast forward a year and the park has changed hands again.
Mayor Austin says he is looking forward to Ellis Entertainment’s newly announced plans which include an expanded layout and enhanced experience.
“Hit the potential that we’ve always thought it had, and this certainly sounds like a situation where that could happen over time,” Austin added.
Revenues could impact, not just Henderson, but the entire region. Evansville Convention and Visitors Bureau leaders expect this to be a “major attraction” with a direct benefit, helping to boost local innkeepers taxes for hotels and a 1 percent food and beverage tax when those visitors dine at local restaurants.
“When they consume goods, we’ll be spending tax dollars with our local governments and that’s always good because that means our local residents don’t have to make those investments in our community, it’s our visitors helping carry some of that load,” Joe Taylor, Executive Director of the Evansville Convention and Visitors Bureau explained.
“You’ve got to hope that they follow through and you got to hope they have the return that is needed to sustain that business,” Austin explained.
Taylor added he expects these plans could even speed up a major regional infrastructure project which is the I-69 Ohio River crossing bridge which will connect Indiana to Kentucky.
We also called Evansville Mayor Lloyd Winnecke’s office. His staff says he is out of town on business.
Tropicana leaders say they have no comment on this.