Churchill, Magna seek
track license

Apr 16, 2003 4:45 AM

There is one more thoroughbred racing license to be awarded by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and giant racetrack operator Churchill Downs Inc. (CHDN) would like to have it.

But, there’s a catch: the Kentucky Derby king only wants to be involved in the projected development of Pittsburgh Palisades Park, a $500 million entertainment center, if the state passes legislation authorizing the state’s tracks to install slot machines.

Churchill’s interest was explained by Beaver County developer Charles J. Betters who dreamed up the concept for Palisades Park. The plan calls for a one-mile racetrack and more than one million square feet of retail and residential development.

"Development of the racetrack is contingent on receiving a license from the Pennsylvania Thoroughbred Racing Commission and legislation that would permit gaming and allow slot machines at tracks," Betters said.

Not surprisingly, Churchill’s national adversary, Magna Entertainment Corp. (MECA) also is seeking the only available license, hoping to build a track near Pittsburgh International Airport. The company already operates a harness racing facility, the Meadows, nearby and sees the new thoroughbred track, which would race days while The Meadows races at night, as a solid fit.

No date has been set by the commission to hear the competing license applications.