New horse racing tracks could be on the horizon for five Nebraska cities, including Gering.
The Nebraska Racing and Gaming Commission convened on Friday, July 16, for a lengthy informational meeting on the proposed racetracks. Besides Gering, proposals to construct racetracks in Bellevue, Norfolk, North Platte and York were also discussed.
“This is uncharted territory for the state of Nebraska and the Racing and Gaming Commission,” commission executive director Tom Sage said.
The majority of the more than four-hour long meeting was geared toward the proposals.
“The commission heard the proposals, then allowed for proponents, opponents and neutral people to speak,” Sage said.
Several letters were presented either in favor or against the tracks, though Sage said the Gering proposal did not receive any letters for either position.
It was brought forward by Scottsbluff Exposition and Racing Inc., a corporation spearheaded by Brian Becker and his daughters Breann and Brooke. The family operates a racetrack in Hastings.
Their proposed location is a 104-acre site on the south side of Gering, nestled between Five Rocks Road and Highway 71.
Features would include a 5/8 mile track, six stall barns, a paddock viewing area, a grandstand, a rooftop terrace and a parking lot with 780 parking spaces.
The Beckers were also the group who proposed a North Platte horse racing track.
“Gering is a nice location, and it’s growing,” Brian Becker said. “This will bring in a lot of people. With North Platte and (Gering), we’re not interfering with another racetrack in the proximity.”
Several of the proposals also included potential plans for casinos later down the line. Sage said the informational meeting was strictly focused on the racetracks, however.
The question if and when those tracks will be built is one for another day.
“That’s up to the commissioners to decide,” Sage said.
Commission chairman Dennis P. Lee has yet to set a timetable for the confirmation or dismissal of the proposals.
“(Lee) said he anticipated additional public hearings,” Sage said.
The Beckers agreed it would be a while before any plans were finalized.
“There’s going to be a lot more coming out,” Breanna Becker said. “It’s going to be a long process.”