Efforts to Lease New Jersey Racetracks Suspended

The proposed lease of Meadowlands and Monmouth Park, the two racetracks operated by the New Jersey Sports and Exposition Authority, is off for now. The state has been considering the lease agreement since late 2003.

Bruce Garland, senior vice president of racing for the NJSEA, said Oct. 28 all the parties involved received a letter from Lehman Brothers, the investment-banking firm advising the NJSEA, that the offer had been suspended. According to published reports in New Jersey, Sen. Richard Codey, who is poised to take over as governor given the resignation of James McGreevey, has decided to reassess the potential lease to private interests.

Legislation authorized this summer would have allowed the NJSEA to maintain its role as a coordinating entity for off-track wagering and account wagering in the state. Account wagering was scheduled to begin in time for the Oct. 30 Breeders' Cup World Thoroughbred Championships.

Among the parties that have expressed interest in operating Meadowlands and Monmouth are Churchill Downs Inc. and Magna Entertainment Corp., the two largest racetrack companies in North America in terms of the number of holdings. Both tracks are profitable.

Meadowlands, which offers live Thoroughbred and Standardbred racing and year-round simulcasting, is located in northern New Jersey not far from New York City. It is the largest single wagering outlet in the United States in terms of total handle each year.

Monmouth, located in central New Jersey near the Atlantic Ocean, has been tabbed to host the 2007 Breeders' Cup World Thoroughbred Championships.

The NJSEA also operates Giants Stadium and Continental Airlines Arena at Meadowlands. It also has managed projects at the state aquarium in Camden, the convention center in Atlantic City, and the Rutgers University football stadium.