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Oaklawn Park has been raising the bar in thoroughbred racing for more than a dozen years.

It is widely considered the second best race track in the country and closing the gap on No. 1 Santa Anita.

Now, it has set the standard for hiring casino employees and will make Hot Springs and Arkansas a better place to live.

Raising its minimum wage to $13 an hour for people who don't make tips in preparation of adding 400 full-time employees to go along with the 700 already employed there is going to put a lot of tax dollars into the state coffers.

Arkansas is a small state that always needs more money for improvements, and it also needs jobs for its residents.

The University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences and Arkansas Children's Hospital already had raised their minimum pay to $14 an hour to help them hire better people.

Oaklawn -- which has about 30 openings right now (the unemployment rate in Hot Springs might be 0%) -- knows about getting good people who will stay.

During live-racing season, track employment swells to about 1,500 -- and that doesn't include the trainers and their staffs -- and the economy in Hot Springs also swells.

Southland is smart enough to follow suit. When the doors open at the other two casinos, if they don't have a minimum salary of at least $13 an hour, they will find it difficult to hire enough people.

Oaklawn is dedicated to horse racing and will continue to grow, and this latest move shows it obviously pays the same attention to its casino.

This is a win-win for the state. Jobs and tax revenue are positive things.

Plus, on Oct. 1, many Oaklawn employees are getting a nice raise.

***

The weekend of Oct. 19 just got even bigger when the Auburn Tigers visit the University of Arkansas.

There's always an element of excitement when Gus Malzahn returns.

Malzahn, an Arkansas native, was on the Razorbacks staff for a year. He could have returned as the head coach a couple of years ago, but he parlayed the offer into a raise and extension to remain at Auburn.

A lot of Hog fans would rather beat Auburn than anyone.

That's just the start.

Also on that weekend, the 1969 Razorbacks team is having its 50-year reunion and will be honored at the game. That team is one of the best to ever wear the Razorbacks uniform.

On Wednesday, it was announced the Hogs basketball team had added an exhibition game for Oct. 20 against the the University of Arkansas at Little Rock, and that will be the official unveiling of Nolan Richardson Court.

A lot of time and planning have gone into what the court will look like, and the UA even surveyed its fans for feedback.

The court will be different. In the recent past, changes were made for the sake of change, not to make the fans happy.

As for the exhibition game, it will be historic and most likely grow into a regular-season game.

New basketball Coach Eric Musselman has embraced the Razorbacks and their history, and he already has moved one exhibition game to Barnhill Arena.

More importantly, former players from as far back as anyone can remember have been welcomed by Musselman.

To add to the fun, UALR is coached by former Razorback All-American Darrell Walker.

The exhibition game is not part of the ticket package. It will cost $10 per person on a first come, first served basis.

Proceeds from the game will help those who suffered during the spring floods.

Just a warning, a lot of hotels already are sold out in that area. Rooms are going fast.

Sports on 09/26/2019

Print Headline: Oaklawn makes investment in community

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