Hoosier Park owner Centaur received approval Feb. 25 to purchase the 110 acres of land on which the Anderson, Ind., racetrack sits.
In a 3-1 vote by the Anderson Parks Board, the land will be purchased for $750,000. The move provides Hoosier Park officials greater flexibility in future development of the property, on which a slot-machine casino is being built.
“We want to own our own house,” Rick Moore, Hoosier Park general manager of racing, told the parks board. “We want to control our own destiny.”
The land is owned by the parks board, which leased the property to Hoosier Park for $128,000 a year plus 0.5% of pari-mutuel wagering revenue. The sale agreement calls for Centaur to pay $150,000 a year over a five-year period. According to the Hoosier Park media guide, the track paid about $2.1 million in land rent from 1994-2005.
“In the past, we have had to get approval from the parks board for any material changes,” Moore said. “The analogy we use is that if you own your house, you have a lot more latitude to make changes than if you lease.”
As of late, change has defined Hoosier Park. Ground was broken on a 92,000-square-foot casino in late 2007. The casino, which will offer 2,000 slot machines, is projected to open this summer.
Another phase of development calls for a hotel to be constructed on the property. Without the board’s decision to sell, Hoosier Park officials would have been required to gain approval for further development.
“It affects every aspect of how we do business,” Jeff Smith, Centaur’s managing director of racing, commented in a story published by the Anderson Herald Bulletin.
The 110 acres were donated to the city of Anderson by local businessman Virgil Cook in 1990 for the sole purpose of developing a pari-mutuel racing facility. At the time of the donation, the property was valued at $2 million.
Hoosier Park, open year-round for full-card simulcasts, will open its live harness meet in April. The Thoroughbred meet will run from late summer through the fall.