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Renovation to continue after W.Va. track opens

April 15, 1997

By CLYDE FORD

Staff Writer, Charles Town

CHARLES TOWN, W.Va. - When fans return to the Charles Town Races, they might be disappointed by what they initially see, track officials said.

The track is tentatively scheduled to reopen on April 30, but the more than $15 million renovation project has not been completed, said Roger Ramey, vice president of public relations.

Since the track closed last year, new owners from Penn National have touted their plans to perform an extensive renovation of the facility since video lottery was approved by voters last November.

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But instead of a Spanish-motif facade in front of the grandstand entrance, fans will see a work in progress, Ramey said.

Plans also call for moving power line poles and electrical transformers from in front of the entrance so that they do not detract from the facade, but that work will not be completed in time for the reopening, he said.

Charles Town Races marketing director Bill Bork Jr. said track officials are worried fans will have high expectations when the track resumes operation and will be disappointed.

Track officials are working to make sure fans do not have inflated expectations.

Ramey said that work will continue throughout the summer and renovations might not be completed until the end of the year.

Penn National is spending between $15 million to $20 million on the renovations.

Most of the renovations are taking place in the video lottery gaming room. The three levels of the club house where the video lottery will be housed will not be completed when the track resumes live racing, Ramey said.

Video lottery will not start until late July, Ramey said.

"That's what a lot of people are looking forward to, but we've got to get live racing started and get people back to work," Ramey said.

Track officials do not know the official start date, but have said they are tentatively planning for April 30.

Work is under way to install fire sprinklers in the 62-year-old grandstand, he said.

Ramey said a decision on the official start date could be made within days.

He said the decision is needed so horse owners and sign up for races and motels and restaurants can gear up for the crowds.

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