Prairie Meadows Rental Agreement is Approved

The Polk County, Iowa, board of supervisors voted unanimously in favor of a five-year, $100 million rental agreement with the operators of Prairie Meadows Racetrack and Casino.

According to the Des Moines Register, the Racing Association of Central Iowa will pay the county $1.3 million a month in rent, or $15.6 million a year through 2007. The county also receives a share of the net profits that could be up to $4.4 million a year. If the association misses a payment, it could be forced by the county to use other funds--such as its purse account--to make good on the contract.

The racing association refused to offer any substantial guarantees after five years because of concerns that competition from riverboats and an escalating state casino tax will cut into future profits.

The county estimates it will use $10.2 million to $12.5 million of Prairie Meadows' annual payment to cover the cost of the $212 million Iowa Events Center, which a sports, entertainment, and convention center complex scheduled to open in 2004. Officials also have plans to spend about $5.25 million a year in track revenues for Prairie Meadows property taxes and a few unrelated bond obligations.