NJSEA Awaits Decision on Sale of Meadowlands, Monmouth

The executive committee of the New Jersey Sports and Exposition Authority declined at a meeting before the Thanksgiving holiday to decide whether formal bids to purchase Meadowlands and Monmouth Park would be accepted.

A spokesperson for the NJSEA said although there has been "intense speculation" a decision is imminent the agency plans to take its time before deciding the future of the tracks.

Prior to the Nov. 26 executive committee meeting, investment banking company Lehman Brothers recommended the NJSEA sell control of Meadowlands and Monmouth Park to a private investor.

"The report from Lehman Brothers has been received but there was no discussion or action taken regarding the tracks during the meeting," said Jim DeBarsh.

The NJSEA is continuing to review the market to see whether the sale of the tracks or long-term lease agreement with a private investor is prudent, DeBarsh said. Last year, Meadowlands and Monmouth yielded $23.5 million in profits for the state.

"Currently there is no timetable on when a decision will be made," DeBarsh said. "But if the commissioners decide to move ahead, an offering statement will be prepared and it will be an open process."

The next executive committee meeting is scheduled for Dec. 17.

In its report, Lehman Brothers said Churchill Downs Inc. and Magna Entertainment Corp. are likely to be leading pursuers of the tracks as well as a number of casino companies. DeBarsh said the commission has been adamant that any deal for Meadowlands and Monmouth Park would contain language guaranteeing the facilities remain racetracks.

The NJSEA has been steadily easing itself out of the sports business since it was mandated by Gov. James McGreevey. Control of Giants Stadium has been turned over by the NJSEA to the New York Giants and a similar deal is being considered for Continental Airlines Arena, home of the New Jersey Devils and New Jersey Nets.