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Paladino and partners, buyers of Fort Erie Race Track, plan to keep it open

Carl Paladino has purchased the Fort Erie Race Track, and he plans to keep the track open while developing the adjacent vacant property.

The Buffalo developer, who closed on the deal Friday evening with business partners Bill Mosey and Joel Castle, said the group’s goals include developing the 200 acres that surround the racetrack and making the racetrack self-sustaining.

“I think, overall, the development of the Fort Erie region, whether it be NASCAR or the race track or other forms of development that we intend to put up there, will enhance Buffalo as a place to be,” Paladino said.

Paladino and his partners purchased the 338-acre property and adjoining vacant land from the Nordic Gaming Corporation (El Ad Canada) because it was a “nice development opportunity,” he said. Paladino did not disclose the purchase price.

The business partners have planned how they’re going to develop the surrounding acres, he said, but he wouldn’t release details until they meet with their managing partner and finalize the plan.

He did say that their goals include keeping open the 117-year-old racetrack, which was on the verge of closing at the end of the last racing season.

“One of our goals is to help make sure that the track has a good chance to become self-sustaining without Canadian government assistance,” he said.

The racetrack has relied on subsidies from the Canadian government in the past.

The racetrack and the surrounding acres that will be developed will help both Fort Erie and Buffalo proper, Paladino said.

“Being miles from the border and miles from the city, and obviously for New Yorkers who like NASCAR, it should bring all kinds of new business to the Buffalo area,” Paladino said.

The complex has been for sale since 2007. Horse racing fans from both sides of the border, the Fort Erie business community and the track’s employees did not want to see it close. The racetrack has a yearly economic impact of $27 million.

Paladino added that with the purchase, it is pertinent that Peace Bridge officials ensure Buffalonians and Canadians can easily pass through the border.

“They’re trapping people on the bridge for an hour or two hours,” Paladino said. “The government can do more to provide a good service in the sense of getting people through that turmoil.”

Paladino said he couldn’t say when he would release more information on his plans, but he offered one hint: “I think in the approximate future, you’re going to see Fort Erie prosper.”