08/14/2007 11:00PM

Churchill pulls its signals from Indiana offtrack site


Churchill Downs Inc. was forced to pull the signals of its racetracks from an offtrack betting parlor in Evansville, Ind., on Wednesday because of a provision in its agreement last year to sell Ellis Park, which is located near Evansville, the company said.

The signals that were pulled included those from Arlington Park near Chicago and Calder Race Course in Miami. The Evansville betting outlet is owned by Indiana Downs, a Thoroughbred and harness racing track located southeast of Indianapolis.

According to Julie Koenig Loignon, the vice president of communications for Churchill, the agreement to sell Ellis Park to Louisville businessman Ron Geary contained a stipulation that required the removal of the signals from the Evansville OTB. The stipulation was added at Geary's insistence, Koenig Loignon said.

Churchill officials have been attempting to reach a separate agreement with Geary that would allow the signals to be offered at the offtrack outlet, but those negotiations have been unsuccessful, Koenig Loignon said.

"We've been trying to reach a new agreement for a year now, and we'll keep trying," she said.

Geary said on Wednesday that the sales agreement stipulated that Churchill Downs could not compete with Ellis Park within a 75-mile radius of the track for 10 years. The stipulation would have required Churchill to shut off the signals as of September of last year, but Geary suspended the requirement while both sides tried to reach another agreement.

"We couldn't come to a deal that made sense to both sides," Geary said.