County says no plans to tear down Rillito grandstand.. for now - Tucson News Now

County says no plans to tear down Rillito grandstand.. for now

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TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) -

Pima County says it has no plans to tear down the grandstands at the Rillito Race track, at least not in the short term.

There are plans to tear down some old dilapidate stables and move others from the west side of the track to the east side.

But those plans are tenuous as well.

Until the Horsemen's Association says it will hold a horse racing season in 2015, those plans could be put on hold, too.

The county says until the voters speak, there are no specific plans to do anything except incrementally turn Rillito Park into a soccer destination.

The voters will be asked likely next year, whether to turn Rillito Park into a tournament ready soccer facility.

If it's approved, it will take a while until the project is designed and constructed.

Until that time, the county is planning for continued horse racing and grandstand use.

If it becomes a tournament facility with 16 fields, the grandstand will likely have to go.

The county did research which shows the grandstand is too far away from the fields.

"It's seven times farther away than the edge of the soccer fields at Kino," says Nanette Slusser, an assistant county administrator. "So it's functionally obsolete for soccer."

The county and Horseman's Association have not spoken for two weeks about a renewed contract for next season.

"Our calls have not been returned," says Slusser.

She says both uses at Rillito have been studied intensively.

There are proposals for joint use which includes both soccer and horse racing.

"This is a prime piece of real estate in the middle of the city," says Slusser. "We've had multiple inquiries."

But she adds the county will not give us the "public space for private use."

Even if a bond package is approved horse racing may still be a fixture at least in the near term.

"It could be years, up to seven years" says Slusser, depending on how the bond issue is prioritized.

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