The last thing visitors want to do after a full day of gambling, live racing and concert going at Sunland Park Racetrack and Casino is drive home. Soon they won’t have to as the track broke ground Friday on a $7 million expansion project that will consist of a 78-room four-story cowboy-themed boutique hotel.

Sunland Park’s Mayor, Javier Perea, hailed the project in southern Doña Ana County, New Mexico as a new era of hope for the community.

He said, “It’s going to be a catalytic project, in my eyes, to development in this particular area because not only are you going to have the opportunity to visit the casino but you’re going to have an opportunity to stay in Sunland Park and once you’re here you can enjoy some of the other things we have like Western Playland, the winery on the other side, Mount Cristo Rey, the trails and do some bird watching there,” as reported by ABC-7.

The custom-made furnishings of “The Hotel at Sunland Park Racetrack” will feature a spacious lobby and to complement the view of the mountains, double-sided fireplaces. The project was first reported in June 2015 by the news agency and back then promised to be the first of what was hoped to be other new businesses within the Sunland Park City limits, as well as the next step in long-term plans for developing an entertainment district in the area. Customers from Santa Fe, Las Cruces and East El Paso encouraged the idea saying they’d trade their drive back home for comfortable accommodations, according to Sunland Park Racetrack General Manager Rick Baugh.

Last year, the company had hoped to break ground on the expansion by August 2015, but that didn’t happen. At that time, the plan had been in the works for a year already, according to Ethan Linder, director of marketing for Sunland Park Racetrack and Casino. A land donation by Stan Fulton, who wanted Sunland Park to be more of a destination resort, made the expansion possible.

Construction started on the racetrack in 1956 and was opened in 1959. The casino followed in 1999, said Linder. The existing facility has strong ties to the community and was the catalyst for the expansion and assistance was given to pull the project together.

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