Churchill Offers $28.5 Million for Fair Grounds

Churchill Offers $28.5 Million for Fair Grounds
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Churchill Downs Inc. has apparently upped its interest in Fair Grounds. According to a local report, CDI offered $28.5 million to buy the New Orleans racetrack, though about $20 million of that would go to horsemen to settle a revenue dispute.

Two sources close to the negotiations told the New Orleans Times-Picayune CDI is the first company to make a firm offer for Fair Grounds. CDI had already been negotiating with horsemen to settle Fair Grounds' debt of at least $60 million because of improperly withheld video poker revenue.

Fair Grounds filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in August because of the debt and has until March 29 to submit a reorganization plan. A judge is scheduled to give a final ruling on the video poker dispute March 23. Horsemen estimate they are owed $90 million from Fair Grounds, which includes interest.

The Krantz family currently owns controlling interest of Fair Grounds after paying $14.7 million for 53% of its stock in 1990. The Krantzes currently control 78% of Fair Grounds stock. Bryan Krantz has indicated the family wants to retain majority control but will listen to offers.

Fair Grounds attorneys have been contacted by ten potential buyers so far, the Times-Picayune reports. Among those is Louie Roussel III, whose family originally sold its majority interest in Fair Grounds to the Krantzes.

Helping to drive interest in Fair Grounds is the construction of a slots parlor. Orleans Parish voters approved the machines in October.

Fair Grounds would be the first of CDI's stable of tracks to offer electronic gaming.

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