By Scott Bolthouse
Originally published Jan. 22, 2016
After sitting abandoned on Vining Road in Huron Township for over five years, the failed Pinnacle Racecourse is finally getting demolished, putting an end to a long chapter filled with controversy and disappointment.
The demolition comes following an agreement made last summer between Wayne County Executive Warren Evans’ administration and the property owner to clear the site, which posed an obvious hazard to the Huron Township community.
The former live thoroughbred race track, which opened with a heap of excitement in the summer of 2008, was in bad shape after being illegally picked through by people searching for anything of value as it sat deserted for the last few years.
The track closed its doors in the fall of 2010 and, soon after, surrendered its horse racing license back to the State of Michigan.
The initial plan was to reopen the race course, but due to fiscal constraints, the owners decided to close permanently, sticking Huron Township with a $2.6 million unpaid tax bill.
Equipment at the site was auctioned off by the township in 2012, and even though the building was presented during that time to any developers, no one took over the property, eventually leading to this week’s demolition.
The track struggled during its three years of operation mainly due to cuts that were made at the time to Michigan’s horse racing budget, according to Crain’s. The founder of the former track, Jerry Campbell, also previously stated that they rushed into the construction phase of the project, adding to a debt that took a hit on Pinnacle’s finances during a worsening economy.
The Pinnacle failure cost the county $35.2 million and failed to generate the jobs that were promised when the project was first announced.
During its operation, Pinnacle featured live and simulcasted thoroughbred horse racing, a fully-functioning restaurant and bar, and an outdoor grandstand with the capacity to seat nearly 1,000 people during events.
The property currently has available infrastructure in place for another possible development, and only time will tell if something new is constructed on the west side of Vining Road.
Pinnacle Racecourse demolition photo gallery. All photos by Scott Bolthouse.
What NO Detroit news source will report the honest Why this track was never completed and was unable to produce the jobs. When it was put up in 2008 no one could have foreseen what then Gov. Granholm would do in 2009 by dissolving The Office Of Racing Commissioner and throw Horse Racing to the wolves, the Michigan Gaming Control Board. They allotted Pinnacle 84 racing days in 2010 only to take them all back but 3, yes I said 3. The HBPA (horsemen/women) had to buy back 39 days with their own money. In Sept. the MGCB came at us again for $39,000 more otherwise they were going to end the meet right then and there. So put the blame where it belongs, on the State. They wasted that $$$, they gave the tax incentives to build the track then turned around and sabotaged the entire project and the horse racing Industry. Gov. Snyder has only willingly continued where Granholm left off. They are all in bed with the Casino’s. By handing us over to the MGCB the plan was to kill us off and have succeeding. The State and Campbell were both snakes and in the end it was the Horsemen and women as usual that were slapped down.
Theyw wanted to build a drag strip there they should havel et them it still would have beeno openg generating tax dollars..
SO SAD I AM CRYING AS I SEE THIS. I WAS ONE OF 12 OF THE 2000 WHO APPLIED TO BE HIRED FOR GUEST SERVICES. I WOULD HAVE GLADLY BEEN AN EMPLOYEE EVEN IF I DIDN’T GET PAID. SUCH A WASTE OF A BEAUTIFUL BUILDING. IT’ A SHAME IT COULDN’T HAVE BEEN A LOCATION FOR HORSE SHOWs, OR MICHIGAN STATE FAIR. IT WAS AN HONOR AND I WILL ALWAYS BE PROUD TO HAVE WORKED AT THE PINNACLE. FAREWELL TO HAPPY AND ALIVE TIME IN MY LIFE,.PEOPLE WERE AWESOME AND I MADE MANY SPECIAL FRIENDS. FAREWELL TO A CLASSIC! P.S. I do hope someone got that beautiful weathervane.