Monmouth, Meadowlands Could Be Leased Within Three Months

On Tuesday members of the Monmouth Park stakeholders committee were told that the racetrack could gain future revenue from slot machines and that leasing market is extremely favorable--and that was at its first meeting. According to the Asbury Park Press, the meeting included a lot of discussion pointing to a change in management for Monmouth Park and possibly Meadowlands, and soon.

"I'm not going to beat around the bush," said New Jersey Sports and Exposition Authority president George Zoffinger. "A private operator can make campaign contributions and can hire lobbyists. People are going to say it's a terrible thing for me to say. But at the end of the day, it might make a difference getting slots here." The NJSEA currently operates both Monmouth and Meadowlands.

Robert Lieber of Lehman Bros. consulting firm told the committee that private operators have already expressed a strong interest in Monmouth Park.

"Stock prices are up for the companies that operate a multiple number of tracks, and the financing environment is extraordinarily attractive -- white hot, as we call it," said Lieber.

The Press article said officials indicated representatives from Churchill Downs Inc., Magna Entertainment, and Freehold Raceway are among the interested parties in leasing Monmouth and Meadowlands, as are some local groups. Zoffinger said potential deals could include one or both tracks, and could be in place within three months.

Selling the properties outright was considered in November, but a decision was not reached at that time. The possibility of a lease could be opened for public comment in the coming months.