09/13/2014 2:26PM

Churchill attempting to sell Fair Grounds


Churchill Downs Inc. is attempting to sell Fair Grounds Race Course in New Orleans, a track it acquired out of bankruptcy in 2004.

A report published Saturday in the Baton Rouge Advocate said Churchill was working with JP Morgan Chase to solicit bids on Fair Grounds, which operates a profitable slots parlor in addition to hosting a fall-winter Thoroughbred meet and a summer Quarter Horse meet. The report said CDI required that interested parties submit a purchase proposal by Wednesday.

That CDI would be interested in selling Fair Grounds is not surprising. The company came under heavy fire earlier this year from various Louisiana entities – including the state legislature, which threatened to withhold its license to operate Fair Grounds – for failing to reinvest profits from slot machines and video poker games back into horseracing.

Moreover, CDI’s long-term strategy appears to be focused more around casino gambling and its signature racing product, the Kentucky Derby, than operating a string of racetracks. In late May, CDI leased Calder, its South Florida racetrack, to its longtime rival, The Stronach Group. 

Fair Grounds recently began installing new video boards in the infield and paddock and has begun work on upgrading a turf course that has not drained properly for years. Fair Grounds officials presented those initiatives at a meeting last month of the Louisiana Racing Commission. The LRC, the legislature, and the local horsemen’s group have praised Fair Grounds’s recent racing-related investments, which include upgrades to the backstretch. The track’s 2014-15 race meet begins Nov. 21.

CDI acquired Fair Grounds for roughly $47 million in 2004. The Advocate reported the current asking price for the property to be $125 million. That number was said to be too high for one potentially interested party, Tom Benson, the local owner of the NFL’s Saints and NBA’s Hornets.

Creighton Schoenfeldt More than 1 year ago
Slots will be givin to arlington when hell freezes over. when mr d dies he will go down as the worst owner in the history of arlington. he hired a bunch of idiots to run the track and all it's departments. his rewards for it's best players was crap 10,000 pts earned you 10.00. the hand writing was on the wall when the suspicius fire and than tax breaks to this owner when washington park and hawthorne were not givin them. than he builds this tash mahal to himself and we paid for it. than all the prices went up up and up, hell he should have burned it down again only this time don't leave anything behind. slots you got to be kidding.
russell More than 1 year ago
CDI will sell every property that doesn't have slots. CD makes $$$ 2 days a year.
HonDr Vin More than 1 year ago
interesting why cdsn would not sell Arlington int'l
Walter More than 1 year ago
Because horse racing is on life support in the state of IL. Also, Richard Duchosoiss is the majority owner of the track, so I don't see it being sold during his lifetime.
Chad Wilson More than 1 year ago
exactly, Arlington is not worth much at this time
Edward Krasinski More than 1 year ago
Penn National runs their properties the same way.squeeze, squeeze, squeeze every last dollar out and then dump the property. For example. "Raceway Park in Toledo" Only interest is slots because they never call in sick
Lefty More than 1 year ago
Tom Benson? Tom Benson is a really groovy guy, but shouldn't the person be a bit younger maybe? If he wants to make changes or go in a different direction or something? I don't want to be out of line or anything.
rahman Williams More than 1 year ago
They should put the track up for a claim of 500 and have a shake to see who gets it
rahman Williams More than 1 year ago
They should put the track up for claim
Shawn Britton More than 1 year ago
Gunner More than 1 year ago
Churchill theme song: "ta da dump, ta da dump, ta da dump, dump, dump."
Pagani Zonda More than 1 year ago
Churchill dagger.
Paul More than 1 year ago
C;mon, folks... use your noodles; it;s easy to see where this is headed. We know Churchill's M.O. Churchill is a "corporate entity" run by a bunch of Shylocks.They bought up all these major tracks -- Hollywood, Arlington, Calder, Fairgrounds (which used to be major many years ago), Bay Meadows -- then squeeze every last dime out of them, and then sell them to a "developer" who will raze the place... thus eliminating the competition once and for all. The big profits are icing on the cake. Right now, Churchill has an inferior racing product except for the KD, but once they eliminate as much competition as possible, they will be one of the "major players" by default. Their interest in slots is just to maximize the low overhead profit. Just remember, it's all "corporate think"...
Walter More than 1 year ago
The only point you missed was they never owned BM. They sold Hol to BM Land Co, which closed it last year.
Chas More than 1 year ago
What a surprise...Churchill Downs chooses to run their race tracks the way they see fit, which is to squeeze every last dollar out of these tracks without investing capital into them...then, when Churchill Downs gets criticized about that style, Churchill up and quits.... At least Churchill didn't squeeze Hollywood Park like they did Fair Grounds and Calder...they did put some money into the track, but, when they didn't get slots at the track they turned around dumped the track like yesterday news at a $150 million profit... So everyone is clear like Robert Butcher, it was Bay Meadows Land Co, the last owner of HollyPark that ran it into the ground not Churchill...walking away and deciding to do nothing is one thing, over seeing the demise of something is a far different...either case both companies have destroyed two race tracks each... I guess Arlington Park is up next aka when the former owner eventually dies and is longer on the board of Churchill Downs...and one can only image what it will cost in the future to attend the Derby and Oaks, not to mention the Breeders Cup, if it ever returns to Churchill, which depending on how Keeneland does, it may never..
nick More than 1 year ago
If the BC ever returns to CD? There are only 6 track in this country that can really handle the BC crowd. Keeneland is a great track but can only handle about 30k people. The article at hand was about bleeding the FG track then selling it for a huge profit just because they could. With NO concern for racing.