COLUMBUS - Penn National Gaming returned Wednesday to the Ohio State Racing Commission after being ordered last week to come up with more seating at its proposed thoroughbred racetrack in Austintown and another facility in Dayton.
The revised plan for the Hollywood Mahoning Valley Racecourse includes 1,400 spectator seats, which is about double Penn National's proposal from last week. It added about 300 seats to its proposed Dayton site.
At the time, Penn National spokesman Bob Tenenbaum said the company designed its seating numbers for Austintown based on projections for demand.
"This track has met what we think will be the demand in actual seating in the racetrack areas,'' he said at the time. "The fact of the matter is, over the last 10 to 15 years, attendance has consistently dropped."
Penn is spending a total of $150 million to ask the racing commission to transfer its existing harness-racing license at Raceway Park and thoroughbred racing at Beulah Park near Columbus to Dayton license and Austintown, respectively.
On Wednesday, Tenenbaum said that he's hopeful that the outcome of the most recent meeting will be favorable.
"I think we showed good faith in listening to their concerns and making some adjustments to address those concerns," he said, noting the two projects are almost identical. He explained Penn is facing a critical time concerning construction in Austintown and Dayton.
"In order to open as planned we need to begin active construction in April," he said.
The commission did not vote on the matter Wednesday, but Tenenbaum said he is hopeful the commission makes a decision next week.
"We made adjustments but I think we also successfully explained that we have to act responsibly in terms of fiances for our shareholders, and we felt our plans and projectionss were based on experience and what we feel the market will accommodate," he said. "We'll be there next week and we're very hopeful."
State Sen. Joe Schiavoni said he's confident the commission and Penn National will agree on final plans, and he agrees there should be more seating.
''There should be adequate seating,'' the Democrat said. ''I think a lot of people will truly enjoy horse racing in the Mahoning Valley.''
Penn then plans to spend another $250 million total building the sites, which it hopes to open by spring of 2014.