Missoula County Commissioners Reject Horse Racing Proposal At Fairgrounds [YouTube]
At a meeting on Thursday, the Missoula County Commissioners rejected a proposal to bring horse racing back to the Western Montana Fair.
The vote was two to one, with only newly appointed Commissioner Stacy Rye voting in favor of the proposal presented by the Western Montana Turf Club. Jean Curtiss and Cola Rowley both voted no.
Rowley said the time for horse racing at the fairgrounds has simply passed, especially in light of future plans for the property located in the heart of Missoula.
"I agree with the decision the commissioners previously made that horse racing doesn't belong in the long term plans for the fairground," Rowley said. "However, it is completely appropriate to propose using the track short-term, rather than letting it just sit there, unused. I want a more vibrant fair, just like everybody else, and it's no doubt that racing raises attendance at the fair, but the process we've gone through has revealed that the horse racing infrastructure that has been neglected for a decade is no longer suitable for that purpose, and that the significant community investment necessary to bring it to a suitable condition for one year of use. would make it a bad policy decision."
Rowley added that horse racing no longer fits in with the long term future of the fairgrounds.
"I think it's bad policy to take a step backwards and reintroduce the sport," she said. "I've put a lot of thought into this, and I respect and appreciate the hard work that so may have put into this, and that they did a fantastic job of bringing all this forward, and it was a very difficult decision. But, I believe that 'no' is the right answer."
The last full racing event occurred at the fairgrounds in 2006.