License to be filed for Tucumcari casino, racetrack

By Chelle Delaney: Freedom New Mexico

Rio Rancho businessman Don Chalmers is partnering with the Quay County Gaming Authority in a bid to build a $40 million horse racing track and casino on Interstate 40 in Tucumcari.

Chalmers announced Wednesday in Tucumcari that the investors, under the banner of newly formed Coronado Partnership LLC, will file a racing license application with the New Mexico Racing Commission this spring.

“This is a No. 1 prospect … If we get a license, there will be $40 million in capital expenditures in Quay County to build what needs to be built,” Chalmers told about 200 residents gathered at the Tucumcari Convention Center.

Tucumcari is at least 200 miles from other casinos on I-40, and the project will not impact existing tribal gaming enterprises or the State Fair, and proximity to Texas means additional revenue for New Mexico from out-of-state patrons, said Chalmers, a University of New Mexico regent who owns auto dealerships in Albuquerque, Rio Rancho and Santa Fe.

The “racino” would generate 300 permanent jobs, Chalmers said.

The Quay County Gaming Authority is a joint-powers entity formed in May by Quay County and the towns of Tucumcari, Logan and San Jon, according to its executive director, Logan attorney Warren Frost.

Frost said the racino was first discussed in April 2004 when Gov. Bill Richardson told participants at a Tucumcari town hall meeting that a racino would be economically viable for Tucumcari.

Once the application is filed, Tucumcari would be the third locale vying for the state’s sixth and, for the next 29 years, last racino.

In addition to Tucumcari, three other groups are vying for the license, according to Frost.