Prairie Meadows Back to Drawing Board

Negotiations with horse racing interests at Prairie Meadows will be reopened. Polk County supervisors on April 16 said they fear a proposed lease agreement won't protect taxpayers if profits at the racetrack and casino fail to meet expectations.

The Des Moines Register reported that county were scheduled to approve a five-year contract with the Racing Association of Central Iowa, the non-profit company that operates Prairie Meadows. Three of five supervisors said they weren't certain the agreement promises the county all the money it is supposed to collect, the newspaper reported.

Under the terms of the proposal, the racing association would pay the county $1 million a month in rent, plus a quarterly share of net profits totaling $8 million a year. Track officials could opt to pay the county less than $8 million if their business expenses exceeded gaming revenues.

The delay infuriated track officials, who thought they had addressed county concerns after months of closed-door contract talks. The racing association's highest-ranking members attended the April 16 meeting.

"That's what's so discouraging and regrettable," Tom Flynn, the attorney for the racing association, told the Register. "The lease was drafted and memorialized in terms that were acceptable to the county. Now, that's apparently not true."

Flynn said the proposed 10-page contract establishes Polk County as the chief recipient of casino profits.

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