"We would also want to make sure we had protection for our employees, the horsemen, and the horse industry in the state," Zoffinger told the Newark Star-Ledger.
The New Jersey Sports and Exposition Authority will formally begin the process of selling or leasing Monmouth Park and Meadowlands in June, a move that could put more than $250 million in the financially strapped state agency's coffers, according to published reports.George Zoffinger, chief executive officer of the NJSEA, said the first step of the process is to determine the tracks' value with the help of an investment banking firm. In early May, he estimated that within a month, the investment banking firm would be hired.Meadowlands, located in East Rutherford in the northern part of the state, conducts Standardbred and Thoroughbred racing. The track, which opened in the mid-1970s, generates more than $20 million a year and is the NJSEA's biggest profit maker.The state bought Monmouth in 1988, and the Oceanport facility also is profitable. It is estimated Monmouth generates between $3 million and $6 million annually.Among potential buyers identified are Magna Entertainment Corp. and Churchill Downs Inc., along with former Standardbred owner Louis Guida and Standardbred owner Bill Perretti. Guida has been a partner in several business deals with George Norcross, who is a Democratic Party activist and a confidant of New Jersey Gov. Jim McGreevey.In a published report, Norcross denied any interest in the state's racetracks, but Zoffinger said Norcross has "expressed to me a desire to be informed if we're going to go forward."MEC chairman Frank Stronach expressed interest in the New Jersey tracks, Monmouth in particular, over the past few years. Any sale or lease of Monmouth and Meadowlands would have to be approved by McGreevey.