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IHRC vote clears way for groundbreaking

August 22, 2007
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The Indiana Horse Racing Commission voted unanimously Tuesday to endorse Hoosier Park’s plan for a 92,000 square-foot casino that will house 2,000 slot machines. Officials now hope to break ground on the facility in mid-September. The IHRC also approved Oliver Racing’s purchase of 34 percent interest in Indiana Downs from minority owner LHT Capital.

Tuesday’s vote was the final hurdle for Centaur Racing, owner of Hoosier Park, to begin construction. Monday evening officials received approval from the Anderson Board of Zoning Appeals. In recent weeks the Indiana Gaming Commission has also signed off on the preliminary plans for the facility.

 “We’ve gone through several different scenarios and have come back to this one for several reasons,” Centaur Racing CEO Jeff Smith told commissioners of the plan for a permanent facility located to the north of Hoosier Park’s existing facility. “We’re still working on project costs. The construction timeline is still in process. We’re on such a fast track we’re trying to get to the place where we can build footers.”

Because the plans are preliminary in nature, Smith was not able to provide detailed plans for the new facility or the renovations to the existing structure. He told commissioners that as the plans progressed officials would update the IHRC.

“We’ve got significant financial challenges in putting this together. Be patient; we’ll have more details in mid to late September,” he continued. “We want to build something the local community and the state can be proud of.”

Smith said he hopes the casino will be open by the end of 2008, if not before.

Oliver Racing increases stake in Indiana Downs

Commissioners also voted unanimously Tuesday to approve the transfer of LHT Capital’s 34.34 percent minority interest in Indiana Downs to Oliver Racing. South Bend-based Oliver Racing, the majority owner of the Shelbyville track, agreed to pay $58 million as part of the transaction. The organization now holds a 95 percent interest.

As part of the agreement, LHT Capital will pay a $9 million transfer fee to the State of Indiana. The fee will to toward property tax relief in the state. According to Indiana Downs attorney Lee McNeeley, once the commission approved the sale, it would close within two business days. Indiana Downs officials are also developing plans to add slot machines at the dual-breed track, which is currently conducting harness racing.

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