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[WATCH] PM says ‘no go zone’ Marsa racecourse to get €18 million facelift

Malta Racecourse Limited will be granted a 65-year concession for the modernisation of the racecourse into ‘family attraction’

paul_cocks
Paul Cocks
22 March 2017, 4:37pm
Malta Racecourse limited will be granted a 65-year concession for the modernisation of the Marsa racecourse. (Photo: James Bianchi/MediaToday)
Malta Racecourse limited will be granted a 65-year concession for the modernisation of the Marsa racecourse. (Photo: James Bianchi/MediaToday)
An €18 million project will transform the Marsa race track from a "no-go zone" - as it is perceived by many - to an attraction for the whole family, Prime Minister Joseph Muscat said on Wednesday. 

Muscat, who was speaking at the signing of a memorandum of understanding between the government and Malta Racetrack Limited, for a concession of the racecourse site, said the project fit in well with the government's plans to rehabilitate the south of Malta, and Marsa in particular. 

The company will be granted a concession for 65 years, lawyer Pio Valletta - a 5% shareholder in the project - said, adding that a definite contract was expected to be signed within the next six months. 

Muscat said he was very pleased with the substantial investment being made, adding that the project is possibly the largest ever private project undertaken in cooperation with the government, within the sports sector

He said the project’s investors were projecting 60,000 visitors in the first year of operations alone. 

Photo: James Bianchi/MediaToday
Photo: James Bianchi/MediaToday
Parliamentary secretary for sport Chris Agius said that the government was conscious of the money invested on horse racing and polo by local enthusiasts and it was therefore encouraging to see such a private investment in the sport. Malta Racing Club will remain in charge of organising the horse races, he said. 

Architect Edwin Mintoff, entrusted with the project, said top experts in the field had been consulted. He said the current track and facilities were quite primitive and the existing layout created a lot of inconvenience for residents and commuters. 

"It is the intention of this group to modernise all facilities and bring them up to international standards," he said. 

Mintoff said that, contrary to what happened abroad, the venue was currently open only on the weekend and attracted a mostly-male crowd. Internationally renowned racecourse designer Paul Roberts was engaged as a consultant on the project.

The layout being proposed envisages the lengthening of the track, the construction of a new grandstand, facilities for the Malta Racing Club as well as other visitor facilities. Presidential suites, a private members' club and media facilities will also be built around the track, Mintoff said. 

Facilities and other programmes were being planned to increase customer engagement throughout the whole week. 

"These will include modern stables on site, as well as a spa centre for the care of horses and a doping testing centre," he added.

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Paul Cocks joined MaltaToday after having spent years working in newspapers with The Times...
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