Bay Meadows auction set for Friday

Memorabilia including signs, seats and photos from the recently closed Bay Meadows Race Track in San Mateo will be auctioned off this weekend. 

The event will begin with open viewing of the items on Friday followed by live bidding over the next three days, organizers said. The auction comes less than a week after the last races were held Sunday at the track. 

A spokeswoman for the Great American Group, the company conducting the auction, said there has been a high level of interest in the memorabilia.

The stock consists of nearly 3,000 items, including radio equipment, computers and restaurant and maintenance equipment.

It will be sold at the auction via live webcast and in person at the racetrack, according to the Great American Group.

An inspection day for items up for sale will begin at 9 a.m. Friday, with bidding beginning at 10 a.m. Saturday, Sunday and Monday.

Information about the auction is available online at http://www.greatamerican.com.

The planned demolition of the racetrack has prompted an outcry and legal action by some local residents over the past few years.

The San Mateo City Council approved the development plan and architectural review to turn the racetrack into a commercial and residential development at a meeting on April 21.

The plan includes 75,000 square feet of office space, 93,000 square feet of retail and restaurant space, nearly 400 new residences and a 12-acre park where the city of San Mateo can build new athletic fields.

Bay Meadows Land Co., which owns the track, is planning on moving forward with the auction despite a local community group's effort to stop it, company spokesman Adam Alberti said.

“We are proceeding as planned and we fully expect this weekend to auction off many of the remnants of the racetrack. We hope they find great homes,” Alberti said.

Friends of Bay Meadows, a group long opposed to the closure of the racetrack, has asked for a San Mateo County Superior Court judge to issue a temporary restraining order to prevent the auction from taking place, group spokeswoman Linda Schinkel said.

Schinkel, who said the track has never received a fair historical review, added that the development project's environmental impact report approved by the San Mateo City Council is no longer accurate considering changes to development plans.

Friends of Bay Meadows has filed a lawsuit seeking additional review of the project, including its traffic impacts and possible water
supply issues, Schinkel said.

The group also seeks “proper commemoration or homage to the racetrack,” she said. Current plans to include street signs in the
development featuring racing-related names are not enough recognition of Bay Meadows' history, Schinkel said.

A judge is expected to decide on the restraining order Friday, she said.

“We are concerned about historical items attached to the building that are being auctioned off,” Schinkel said. “We don't want to see the property stripped before we have our court date.”

Schinkel said the court date on the lawsuit is slated for sometime in October and construction on the Bay Meadows land is not expected until then.

However, while an exact date to begin construction has not yet been set, Alberti said the company is looking at dates as early as September. The lawsuit, he said, is a last-ditch effort.

“This is the latest attempt they have put forward to try to stop our efforts,” he said. “We believe they are wrong in the law and wrong in
their motives.”

Friends of Bay Meadows also filed a lawsuit in 2005, Schinkel said. The group organized efforts to collect signatures and place a Bay Meadows measure on the ballot, but a disagreement over the validity of signatures rendered the effort unsuccessful after a state appellate court review, Schinkel said.

Though the current lawsuit is seeking review of the environmental report and the historical landmark status of the racetrack, Schinkel said the ideal outcome would still be for Bay Meadows to remain a regular horseracing venue as it has been since 1934.

Alberti said that while the company respects those with differing opinions, the decade-long community development process by the Bay Meadows Land Co. will soon result in a new, transit-oriented, sustainable development for San Mateo.

“The reality is that what Bay Meadows was it is no longer. Its best days are over,” he said.

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