Pflugerville City Council Endorses Proposed Austin Jockey Club Track

On Tuesday evening, October 26, the Pflugerville City Council voted unanimously to endorse the Austin Jockey Club’s proposal to build a horse racing track to the suburb just north of Austin in Travis County, Texas. The council’s unanimous decision came after more than four hours of public comment, much of which was vocally against the proposal.

Scores of people were not allowed into the meeting because the room at the Pflugerville Justice Center was filled to capacity. Some of the audio portion of the meeting was piped outside; inside, the crowd remained polite.

The race track opponents argued that it would lead to an increase in crime, alcoholism and gambling addiction, and did not belong in Pflugerville. However, the council members argued that the social concerns were largely unfounded and that the potential economic benefit made the project worthwhile for the city.

"If we send a message to the development community that we don't want business and we,re closed for business," the city would have to substantially hike property taxes to pay for the necessary capital projects, said Council Member Duane Blakeslee. "I'm not willing to make that commitment to double your taxes in the next five years."

Austin Jockey Club organizers brought letters of support from community leaders in Selma to the meeting to bolster their contention that the track would be a good neighbor. Selma is home to Retama Park, a horse track near San Antonio that is run by many of the same people who are backing the Austin Jockey Club.

The horse track is planned for 200 acres east of Pflugerville on land adjacent to Travis County's Northeast Metropolitan Park. The land is not currently in Pflugerville's city limits but is scheduled for annexation in December.

Track owners estimate that the $15 million project would bring in $490,000 in taxes and fees for the city, Travis County, the school district and the emergency district.

After annexation, the city could also be on the hook for widening Pecan Street, a two-lane road that provides access to the track site, at a cost of up to $7 million.

The issue now goes to the Texas Racing Commission (TRC), which will probably vote next month on relocating the Jockey Club's license from an East Austin site to the location near Pflugerville. The TRC has the final say on the relocation.

The decision left opponents of the horse track seething and promising to fight the track at the Racing Commission.

Back to News