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.