05/07/2014 10:23AM

Louisiana Senate committee defers action on Fair Grounds improvement bill


A Louisiana Senate committee on Tuesday deferred action on a bill that would require Churchill Downs to spend 10 percent of its slot-machine revenue on capital improvements at its Fair Grounds racetrack in New Orleans.

The decision by the committee puts the bill on the back burner for at least one week. During the hearing, representatives of Louisiana horsemen were highly critical of Churchill’s management of the track, a position they have taken over the past several months in an effort to get the company to make improvements to Fair Grounds.

The bill passed the Louisiana House by a vote of 94-0 several weeks ago. While members of the Senate committee were critical of Churchill and Fair Grounds management during the hearing, they did not indicate that they would be willing to pass the bill this year, in part because the Louisiana Horse Racing Commission approved a one-year extension to the track’s racing license last week conditioned on the company spending money on track improvements, including work on the turf course.

Tim Bryant, the president of Fair Grounds, told committee members that Churchill intends to comply with the conditions the racing commission set on the license extension, according to a video archive of the hearing.

“I’m confident that with additional resources and our capable team at Fair Grounds, we can make improvements,” Bryant said.