Indiana Racetracks Buy Land With Expansion in Mind

Centaur Inc. officials have yet to unveil any concrete plans for slot machines at Hoosier Park, but they are making preparations, as is the ownership team of Indiana Downs.

The Indiana Horse Racing Commission approved a request by Centaur June 22 that allows the racetrack owner to purchase a 19-acre parcel located north of and immediately adjacent to Hoosier Park. Centaur will pay $1 million for the land.

Centaur is still reviewing any and all options for a facility that will house up to 2,000 slot machines. Management is unsure of how the new property will ultimately be utilized, but attorney Robert Hagemier told the racing commission new barns or parking expansion could be intended for the land.

“We’re evaluating a lot of different options,” Centaur chief executive officer Jeff Smith said. “We’re just trying to deal with a lot of variables. We haven't made any final decisions.”

Legislation allowing slots at Hoosier Park and Indiana Downs was approved by the Indiana General Assembly and signed into law by Gov. Mitch Daniels this spring. In order to operate slots, each track is required to pay a $250-million licensing fee, with $150 million due by Nov. 1. The remaining $100 million is due by Nov. 1, 2008.

The multimillion-dollar question is when slots will be operational at Hoosier Park. “The timeline is contingent upon our decision, and no decision has been made,” Smith said.

In recent months, Indiana Downs has also purchased additional land for the purposes of expansion. The racing commission approved Indiana Downs’ May request to acquire 27.6 acres adjacent to the track for $300,000. Track officials said the property would be used for the construction of additional barns.