03/12/2009 12:00AM

Deal set to purchase Fort Erie


A deal has been struck for the purchase of Fort Erie Race Track, with a not-for-profit partnership to pay El Ad/Nordic Gaming Corporation $35 million for the track. Included in the agreement is a requirement that Nordic conduct a 2009 race meet.

The partnership consists of the Fort Erie Economic Development and Tourism Corporation, the Ontario Horsemen's Benevolent and Protective Association and the Town of Fort Erie. The group has posted a non-refundable $2.25 million down payment and will have a 90-day window to complete its due diligence, develop a business plan and, if necessary, arrange for a loan guarantee.

The deal was announced by Jim Thibert, general manager of the tourism corporation, at a Thursday-morning press conference. Sue Leslie, president of the horsemen's group, said by telephone from Florida that the purse structure for the meet is expected to be similar to that of the 2008 season, which averaged $117,000 per day. The 78-day meet will begin on May 2, Kentucky Derby Day, and will run primarily on Sundays, Mondays, and Tuesdays through Oct 27. May 2 and July 4 are the only Saturdays on the schedule.

Nordic said the stable area will open March 23.