Churchill Downs Inc. is eliminating 18 positions at Hollywood Park, including four department heads, in anticipation of completing the Inglewood, Calif., racetrack's sale to Bay Meadows Land Co. The sale is scheduled to close Sept. 23.
Allen Gutterman, vice president of marketing, and James Miller, paymaster of purses, are among those being laid off, along with the heads of information technology and purchasing. The purchasing department and three positions in the Hollywood Park accounting department also were eliminated, according to a track spokesman.
The employees will continue in their positions until the $260-million sale, which was accepted by CDI in July, is completed. CDI human resources personnel are helping in the relocation process, said Mike Mooney, Hollywood Park's director of communications.
"The timing was to be to the benefit of those being laid off," Mooney said. "People have been under pressure for months since rumors of the sale began."
Jack Liebau, president of the Bay Meadows Racing Association, which will take over operations at Hollywood Park, said the move was to be expected.
"I think it was Churchill's position that this has been going on for a long time and there was quite a bit of concern on the part of the workforce there," Liebau said. "Churchill decided that it would be better business to let people know the plans now rather than worry about it for a month. That was their decision and we don't quarrel with it.
"I've been in this situation before at Santa Anita. Accounting, marketing, and group sales, these are areas that can naturally be consolidated. In this situation, it was made easier because Bay Meadows and Hollywood Park overlap dates only in the last week of April and the first week of May."
Liebau said because of the timing of the close of the sale, both Hollywood Park's operating company and Bay Meadows have applied to operate the track's fall meet, which begins Nov. 9. "It's something of a unique situation going on there," he said. "Bay Meadows Racing Association is kind of a company in waiting, so to speak."
Mike Ziegler, an executive at Bay Meadows who was formerly in charge of marketing at Santa Anita Park, will assume direction of Hollywood Park's marketing program.