The state budget will give the New York Racing Association the go-ahead to use a $455 million loan to renovate and upgrade Belmont Park, a move supporters have argued will aid the thoroughbred horse racing industry statewide.

Opponents have contended the plan is being used to prop up an increasingly troubled sport, however, and argued supporters overstated the economic benefits.

A coalition of business interests, labor groups and horse racing groups had called for the provision in the state budget over the last several months and received a boost when Gov. Kathy Hochul included the provision in her initial budget proposal.

“The transformation of Belmont Park will secure the future of thoroughbred racing in New York State, create thousands of good jobs and drive tourism to Long Island and the region for decades to come,” said NYRA President and CEO David O’Rourke. “We thank Gov. Hochul and our legislative leaders for recognizing the importance of this project to the countless New York families and small businesses reliant on a strong horse racing economy.”

The upgrades are set to include plans to build an estimated 275,000-square-foot facility that will include modern amenities. Belmont Park is home to the Belmont Stakes, the final leg of horse racing's triple crown.

But opponents called the provision in the budget a measure that amounted to a subsidy for the horse racing industry and have called for the money to be directed elsewhere.

“Spending $455 million on a luxury sports bar is the height of fiscal irresponsibility," said Edita Birnkrant, the executive director of NYCLASS, Campaign to End Horse Racing Subsidies. "If the horse racing industry is so vital to the future of New York’s economy, then surely it can survive on its own. Wealthy racehorse owners, breeders, and celebrity trainers should fund their own investments and gaming ventures – not taxpayers."