Magna Moving Closer on Development of Gulfstream

Magna Entertainment Corp. is actively seeking a third-party developer for a retail-entertainment project at Gulfstream Park that would become "the new front door for the track," Magna's departing chief financial officer Graham Orr said on Friday.

Magna has completed design-concepts for retail-entertainment centers at three of its tracks with undeveloped real estate owned by the company -- Golden Gate Fields and Santa Anita Park in California and Gulfstream Park in South Florida. Magna hopes to break ground at Gulfstream within the next year.

"We are soliciting interest from a number of developers," Orr told investors during a conference call. "We'd like to be in position where in the next 12 months one will get launched. But that's subject to market conditions and subject to finding the right partner."

Plans call for retail-entertainment developments of between 600,000 and 1-million square feet at the three racetracks. Orr also said Laurel Park, which Magna recently purchased with Pimlico Race Course, could possibly be fitted with a retail-entertainment complex in the future.

"This accomplishes a number of objectives," said Orr, who will be leaving Magna Entertainment for a position with Magna International. "It utilizes an under-developed asset, but the real motivator is it will bring thousands of more people to the grounds."

Earlier this year, a series of public meetings were held in Albany, Calif. with regards to the Golden Gate proposal. The development, called Rancho San Antonio, would be 53 acres and would include an expansion of simulcast facilities, retail space, a hotel, and a convention center. A follow-up hearing was delayed until later this year.

Magna officials also said a racetrack and entertainment complex on property the company owns in Ebreichsdorf, Austria is on schedule to open in the spring of 2004. It is hoped the track can help market the Magna brand throughout Europe.