10/31/2001 1:00AM

Prairie Meadows attracts $150 million offer


The Racing Association of Central Iowa has made an offer of $150 million to purchase Prairie Meadows Race Track and Casino from Polk County.

RACI, a non-profit organization, manages the facility under a lease agreement with the county. Last month two of the five members of Polk County's board of supervisors expressed an interest in selling the Altoona, Iowa, track, prompting RACI's board of directors to make its offer. The track has yet to be officially put on the market.

The offer from RACI calls for payments to be made over a 10-year period. Total payments to the county would be $15 million per year under the offer, which was made to the county in a letter dated Oct. 29.

Prairie Meadows has prospered since adding slot machines in 1995, but slot machine revenue at the track has fallen short of projections this year and the track faces a county referendum in November 2002 to determine whether the machines will be permitted to remain in operation.

Prairie Meadows's total handle was also down sharply during the 2001 Thoroughbred racing season, which ran from mid-April through early October. Purses for the 2002 racing season are guaranteed at nearly $20 million under a five-year contract that expires next year, but RACI officials have said purse cuts are likely for 2003.