VIPA Must Sell St. Thomas Racetrack Land to Move Development Forward

Horse Racing in the Virgin Islands

In hopes of pushing the development of the St. Thomas racetrack forward, V.I. Port Authority board members discussed Wednesday selling the property, which falls under the agency’s aviation division.

At a recent meeting on St. Croix, V.I. Horseracing Commission members shared that there are so far no deadlines or target dates to get horse racing up and running because VIGL Operations, LLC, needs a number of permits to rebuild facilities on St. Croix and St. Thomas after the 2017 hurricanes. The important Coastal Zone Management permit for St. Croix is one of a few in place, they said.

VIGL is the slot machine company approved by the V.I. government to run the territory’s two racetracks. The company has committed to a $27 million investment to rebuild grandstands, parking lots and other structures.

They lease the racetrack land from the V.I. Port Authority, but at Wednesday’s VIPA board meeting, the agency’s acting Executive Director Damian Cartwright said that the Federal Aviation Administration is now requiring the port to “dispose of the land from the aviation division at fair market value.”

According to Cartwright, the property has not been used for aviation purposes in many years and now that VIGL is proposing to expand the racetrack, the FAA has required that it be sold.

“We all recognize the importance of having that development in the territory,” Cartwright said. “So, we will be transferring the property to our marine division and will develop a payment plan over a 10-year period for purchasing the property from aviation.”

The FAA will issue a final permit for the racetrack development after they approve the purchase and payment plan, he added.