Northville Downs Extends Race Dates as Relocation Plans Remain Under Review



  • The Michigan Gaming Control Board and the Michigan Harness Horsemen’s Association have extended the Northville Downs season.
  • With the addition of 16 new race dates, the Northville Downs season is now expected to run through November 25.
  • Plans remain underway for the Northville Downs expansion project with the Plymouth Township Planning Department yet to approve the proposal.

Northville Downs has recently announced that its race calendar would be extended to November 25 after 16 dates were added to its season. In the meantime, the harness racing track is ramping up efforts to relocate, especially since the Northville City Council has voted for its current site to be redeveloped.

Plans for establishing a new facility for the Northville Downs racetrack began early in the year when representatives of the track submitted a proposal to move miles northwest to Plymouth Township. However, the track awaits approval from the Plymouth Township Planning Development and the Board of Trustees before any major developments can take place. 

Northville Downs Season Now Has 68 Total Races for 2024

The initial plan was that the Northville Downs season would have 52 live race dates for the year. According to original projections, the race season was supposed to cover the period between April 7 and September 30. However, the Michigan Gaming Control Board and the Michigan Harness Horsemen’s Association have approved a season extension.

Thanks to this regulatory permission, the season is now set to conclude by November 25. A total of 16 dates have been added to bring the overall race dates for 2023 to 68. So, every Friday and Saturday till November 25 will feature new live races. For each live race date, there must be at least eight races and a maximum of 16 races. Good enough, bettors can enjoy pari-mutuel wagering at Northville Downs through simulcast racing available across Michigan and the US.

City Council Approves Demolition of Current Northville Downs Property

After the race season ends, the city of Northville will effectively cease to host the live harness racing event. This is because the Northville City Council, sometime in September, voted to redevelop the current facility. At a meeting attended by 167 members of the city, they voted to demolish the racetrack and reuse it.

The Northville Downs property will, upon redevelopment, feature 450 housing units, commercial properties and a green space. It’s worth noting that this line of action is a culmination of a series of events which started when John and Mike Carlo, the owners of the track, sold the facility’s land to Hunter Pasteur Homes.

Although the approval is here to stay, it faced some opposition with city residents who believed that a redevelopment will not solve the problem of traffic that the location faces. Besides, with a proposed relocation targeted just nearby at Plymouth Township, traffic at Northville Downs may just double in the coming months.

Relocation and Expansion Plans to Include Massive Gaming Facility

In light of all these events, it is very uncertain that Northville Downs will extend its 79-year stay at Northville. In fact, the track’s own representatives had anticipated these happenings, submitting a proposal for relocation to Plymouth Township. The proposed location is an expansive project to include the following facilities:

  • A half-mile oval harness racetrack
  • 54,000-square foot gaming facility
  • Two-story, 4,900-square foot grandstand
  • 35,000-square foot horse barn
  • 23,000-square foot racing building
  • 3,200-square foot maintenance building.

This initial proposal is expected to cost approximately $25 million. However, the gaming facility is only to be included pending legislative approval and does not form a part of the first phase of the project. If all goes according to the plan, the Northville Downs management may look to receive a license to operate a Michigan online casino at the location.

Not much progress has been made on this project, though. This is largely due to the proposal being under continued review by the Plymouth Township Planning Department. Once the department approves the plans and proposed location, the Plymouth Township Board of Trustees would also need to grant an approval.

City Authorities Grants Developers of The District Detroit Project More Time

Northville Downs is not the only organization experiencing issues with expansion and redevelopment. In 2014, Olympia Development won the rights to renovate The District Detroit project which stands between MotorCity Casino and Caesars Arena. However, not much has been done since then. But in a twist of events, the Downtown Development Authority has given Olympia Development additional time to complete the project.

The new deadline for the project completion would now be five years after the completion of a planning study scheduled to start in Q3 of 2024 or September 13, 2030, whichever comes first. It is expected that this development, which would see residential and retail spaces built close to MotorCity, would boost attendance at the casino.

Jessica is a news contributor to Gamble Online Michigan. She holds a Bachelor's degree in Economics but has over three years of experience working in the hospitality and gambling industry. Despite her core finance and investment banking background, she has been a casino feature writer for N1 Interactive Limited and multiple gambling affiliate sites. Her work has been featured on the bet365 blog, and Max Force Racing. She spends her time between Michigan and California, staying up-to-date on the latest industry developments