Churchill Downs Buys Calder Course
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) _ Churchill Downs announced today it signed an agreement to purchase Calder Race Course in Miami, saying the deal will bolster its live racing and simulcast wagering network.
Terms of the agreement include $86 million in cash subject to certain adjustments at closing, the Louisville racetrack said in a statement.
``The acquisition of Calder represents an attractive investment opportunity for Churchill Downs,″ said Tom Meeker, president and chief executive officer of the Louisville track.
``Based on Calder’s most recent results, we expect this acquisition to contribute positively to our earnings in 1999.″
Calder, one of four thoroughbred tracks in Florida, is adjacent to Pro Player Stadium, home to the Miami Dolphins and Florida Marlins. The track offers live racing and simulcast-only days during two consecutive race meets, which run from late May through early January.
The purchase was unanimously approved by Churchill Downs’ board of directors. The deal is subject to approval by the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation.
Churchill Downs, home of the Kentucky Derby, said it plans to finance the acquisition by using its $100 million line of credit. The transaction is expected to be closed by the end of February, Meeker said at a news conference in Miami.
``Calder is a well-managed operation, and its racing season favorably complements that of Churchill Downs and our other existing racing operations,″ Meeker said.
Meeker said the purchase represented another step in Churchill’s goal of developing a ``comprehensive simulcasting wagering network.″
``Our progress to date in building this simulcast network has been aided significantly by the steps we have taken to gain control over more live racing operations,″ he said.
``We are also confident about the long-term potential to benefit from this transaction by enhancing the live racing product offered by Calder.″
Calder becomes the second track acquired by Churchill Downs in the past year. Last April, Churchill purchased Ellis Park in Henderson, Ky., for $22 million.
``Churchill Downs is the leader in the thoroughbred industry,″ Calder president Ken Dunn said. ``They clearly have an excellent plan, and I’m glad Calder can be a part of it.″
Meeker said the addition of a Florida-based operation would strengthen Churchill Downs’ ability to ``build competitive race fields throughout our racing operations that, in turn, should add to the value of our simulcast product.″
Dunn said earlier this week that Calder had a half-dozen potential buyers. Calder is owned by Kawasaki Steel of Japan through the company’s subsidiary, K Corp.
The purchase is the second major deal involving Kentucky racetracks within the past week.
On Friday, Keeneland announced it had formed an alliance with two companies that specialize in lotteries and gambling casinos to purchase Turfway Park in northern Kentucky.
Racetracks have become hot properties as the industry has moved toward consolidation.