06/21/2001 12:00AM

Mountaineer eyes new track in Erie, Pa.


MTR Gaming Group Inc., the owner of Mountaineer Racetrack and Gaming Resort in West Virginia, has filed an application to build a Thoroughbred racetrack in Erie, Pennsylvania.

MTR said in a statement that the racetrack would be called Presque Isle Downs and be built on 135 acres of land that the company has options to buy. The facility would have both dirt and turf tracks, the company said.

The license application is the first step in what would be a lengthy and

complicated process. In addition to closing the purchase of the property, MTR said that it would need to conduct feasibility studies for the project and gain zoning approvals.

MTR's options on the property run through September, 2001, but the options can be extended to March, 2003, at additional cost. MTR bought the options for $100,000.

The company's West Virginia property has prospered over the past several years because of revenues from video lottery terminals. Located in Wheeling' in the state's northern arm, the track is approximately 150 miles due south of Erie, Penn.