04/22/2004 11:00PM

Scramble on for Michigan licenses


There are 10 racetrack license applications currently awaiting approval by Michigan Racing Commissioner Robert Geake. Under current law, Geake can grant one license for the city of Detroit, one license for the Detroit metropolitan area outside of the city, and unlimited outstate licenses. Here's a look at the individuals and groups applying for licenses.

Metro Detroit

* Magna Entertainment is seeking a license for a $150 million facility that it would build near Detroit Metro Airport in suburban Romulus. Magna won non-binding approval from Romulus voters last fall and has the support of city leaders. Magna also owns Great Lakes Downs.

* Meritus, headed by Don Barden, a prominent Detroit businessman and owner of a casino in Las Vegas and three riverboat operations, on Tuesday applied for two licenses in suburban Detroit, one in Taylor and the other in Westland. Aside from the fact that he would like to compete with the three existing Detroit casinos, Barden has said little about his plans.

* Real estate developer Sam Danou has applied to build a $100 million track on a 378-acre site he owns in downriver Van Buren Township. He has run into local opposition to the plan and has since said that he would shift the location to suburban Allen Park.

* A group operating under the name of Xanadu World, which is headed by Detroit attorney Hallison Young and includes former Detroit Lions running back Billy Sims, has applied for a license to operate a track in Highland Park, a municipality surrounded by the city of Detroit. The application does not specify what breed of horses would race at the track. The mayor of Highland Park has said that he would not condemn the land specified as the location of the track. State law prohibits granting a license if the applicant does not own or have options on the specified land.

City of Detroit

* Andrew McLemore Jr. and Raymond McLemore lead a consortium of investors who have applied for a license to build a $125-million racetrack and gaming entertainment complex at the historic Michigan State Fairgrounds in Detroit, site of Seabiscuit's victory in the 1936 Governor's Handicap. The investors have neither ownership of nor options on the land and would face legal challenges and opposition from the three Detroit casinos if video lottery terminals at tracks become legal.

* Meritus applied for two licenses in the city on Tuesday. One calls for racing at the state fairgrounds and one at the city's Eastern Market. These applications face problematic issues similar to the other city application.


* Eaton Rapids real estate developer Dorian Lange has applied to build a track and equestrian facility of unknown cost in Windsor Township near Lansing. Lange has said he would run a 20-day meet in 2006.

* John Brothers, a longtime associate of Magna chairman Frank Stronach, has applied to take over the Great Lakes Downs license. Current law prohibits the ownership of more than one license, and this sleight of hand would free up an impediment to Magna's application for a license in Romulus.