“Who is Phil Goldberg?” horseman wonders as real estate developers make racino pitch

A south suburban developer is proposing to revive an old race track for a casino and horse-racing facility

Dec.December 02, 2019 04:00 PM
Philip Goldberg and an aerial view of Balmoral Race Track (Credit: Google Maps)

Philip Goldberg and an aerial view of Balmoral Race Track (Credit: Google Maps)

A south suburban developer may just be giving the “racino” another chance.

Philip Goldberg, vice president and general counsel of Simborg Development Inc., leads a group of developers who just signed a deal to purchase Balmoral Park in Crete for an undisclosed price. The racetrack closed its doors five years ago after being sold in bankruptcy proceedings to HITS Inc., a New York-based company which renovated the facilities to host horse shows on the property for the last few years.

Although Goldberg’s group owns the property, there are still hurdles the project faces before it can become a functioning gamling race track again. Chief among them is that state lawmakers need to amend the recently-passed gambling expansion law to include the Crete Township.

State Rep. Thaddeus Jones, D-Calumet City, attempted to pass the amendment at the end of November but the bill failed. He told the Chicago Sun-Times that he wants “Balmoral tied to whatever Chicago’s going to do.”

“There’s already a track there. There’s already a room for a casino. This is going to transform the area if it’s done right. I have a lot of confidence we can do it and bring immediate development,” said Jones.

Despite the optimism and support from some lawmakers like Jones, not everyone is on board. Industry professionals are especially skeptical of Goldberg’s involvement.

“Who is Phil Goldberg?” said Illinois Harness Horsemen Association executive director Tony Somone to the Sun-Times. “He’s not a racetrack person, not a gaming person. We’d like to work together with this group, but we don’t really know who we’re dealing with.”

According to its website, Simborg has developed office and industrial facilities in Northwest Indiana and the Chicago region. It claims to have built or redeveloped over 30 million square feet of space and manages more than 6 million square feet.

The Balmoral bid for the racino project comes just over a month after the Tinley Park debacle in which Gov. J.B. Pritzker killed the proposed racetrack and casino after the gambling operator on the project had deep ties to members affiliated with the mob. [Sun-Times] —Jacqueline Flynn

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