he Ho-Chunk Inc.-affiliated developers of an expanded Atokad Park in South Sioux City are planning a second horse track and casino in Northeast Nebraska.
Pursuing a state gaming license that would allow the development of a new track and expansion of existing buildings at the DeVent Center in Norfolk, WarHorse will present its plans on Friday to the Nebraska Racing and Gaming Commission.
The project, which is still in the planning stage, is expected to employ nearly 250 people and contribute $2.1 million in annual tax revenue to Norfolk and Madison County. The proposal implies 500 gaming positions and a sportsbook. WarHorse Norfolk could contribute as much as $8.4 million to the state’s property tax relief fund.
"The Norfolk has a long track record of supporting horse racing, but isn’t served with a track in the community”, explained Ho-Chunk CEO Lance Morgan, as reported by Sioux City Journal. “We hope to bring the excitement, entertainment and significant economic development that will come with fully developing the site”.
“The benefits are clear”, stated Norfolk Mayor Josh Moenning. “The project attracts new investment from a northeast Nebraska-based business, is part of the solution to reducing property taxes, increases tourism and spurs new economic activity, and adds to the growing mix of entertainment and recreation venues”.
Donna Herrick, CEO and president of Divots Conference Center and Norfolk Lodge & Suites, also analyzed the potential benefits of the project. “We are excited to convert the DeVent Center into a new level of entertainment experience for the Norfolk community. This will be a tremendous complement to the recreation and hospitality features available at the Norfolk Lodge”.
South Sioux City, home to Ho-Chunk-owned Atokad Park, is 80 miles away from Norfolk. The current straightaway track, roughly three furloughs in lenght, runs just one live day of racing each year.
Morgan told Sioux City Journal that Aktoad will eventually be moved to a different site in South Sioux City to create enough space to build a circular 5-8 mile track with a grandstand, and the proposed casino.
He also pointed out that, as the Sioux City casino market is saturated, “bankers aren’t excited” about financing another casino in the metro. This limits the plan to using revenues from the new Omaha and Lincoln casinos to build the Atokad complex. The potential new location of the track has not been announced yet.