AIKEN, S.C. (WJBF) – After being around for nearly a century, Aiken Steeplechase now has its first permanent structure.
Four months ago, the folks at Steeplechase had a groundbreaking ceremony for what was once an idea, but now that idea is springing to life. The association had a dedication ceremony Wednesday morning to celebrate this milestone achievement.
“Oh gosh, I am so thrilled to have this here, because it shows that we’re here, and this place is gonna grow and get bigger. We needed this structure so badly for all the race functions,” said President Frank Mullins.
The $300,000 project spans across three floors, and each floor will serve various functions. The first floor will have hospitality for owners, trainers, and riders, as well as official functions for NSA (National Steeplechase Association). Some of those functions include pre-race meetings for jockeys, and weigh-ins for horses.
The second floor will be a viewing area for owners and invited guests during their particular race. The third floor will be a place for videography and timing for racers–with a spectacular view.
“Each floor has a purpose, and we need it badly, we need a structure that is safe, and also one we can rent out for other purposes. We want other people to enjoy the property, and this will give us the opportunity to start doing that,” said Mullins.
During the off-season and days the Outlook is not needed for racing, the structure will be available to rent for events such as weddings.
“This is truly a multi-purpose structure that will find many uses in the future,” said Mullins.
The Overlook is named after James “JR” Stainbrook, who donated a big portion of the $300,000 for the project. He says the tower looks phenomenal and was amazed to see the final product.
“It exceeds my expectations the way this thing turned out. It’s absolutely stunning. I think it will be here for many years to come, and I think it’s going to be a nice little landmark for the city of Aiken,” said Stainbrook.
City Manager Stuart Bedenbaugh says having this new addition will not only help Steeplechase, but the city of Aiken for tourism.
“Having events here at this facility is going to help our businesses, whether in our downtown or other parts of the city,” said Bedenbaugh. “Folks are gonna come here, they’re gonna dine in our restaurants, they’re gonna stay in our hotels, and short-term rentals. It’s gonna be a strong positive for our business owners here in the city, and I couldn’t be happier.”
Mullins also says this tower is just the beginning of a master plan over the next several years for the property.
“This is just the beginning of what I believe is an era of donor-funded construction that happens out here. We have barns to build, an office to build, we’d like to do a covered arena. There’s a multitude of different things that are part of this master plan–I’d like to see it happen in my lifetime, maybe even sooner,” said Mullins.
Construction workers are putting the finishing touches on the tower, but Mullins says everything will be complete in time for their next races this Saturday.
The structure will be open to renting for corporate events in the next couple of months, according to Mullins.