At yesterday's meeting of the NJSEA, the lease for the Meadowlands was formally adopted. The lease is for 31 years with the annual rent for the track; $1 for the first five years at which point Gural has an escape clause. Should the clause not be exercised, the rent will be a minimum of $500,000 a year. If casino gambling comes to the racetrack, New Meadowlands LLC gets the right to operate the slot machines. But what if gambling comes to the Meadowlands, but not at the track? Gural gets to walk away and recoup 110% of the cost of capital improvements which will include the construction of a new grandstand, parking area and other improvements made. The NJSEA will spend $6 million on remediation costs in the backstrech area, to make the area environmentally safe. Jeff Gural is also required to complete an OTW facility in Bayonne, NJ which is not a problem as construction has already been underway.
The state will be New Meadowlands LLC, $5.5 million for expenses through the end of 2012 with the amount to be repaid to the state over a period of five years starting in 2013. What expenses that addresses is unknown. Perhaps it can be used for purses. This $5.5 million does not represent the environmental remediation costs.
As previously reported, the NJTHA has the right to participate in a six day mixed meet in the spring at the Meadowlands and the option to hold a fifteen day turf meeting in the fall-early winter period.
As for Monmouth, the situation is a little more dicey. The NJSEA will run the meet at Monmouth for one more year but without guaranteeing purses. At the assistance of the NJTHA they will run a 141 day meet which means horsemen will be taking a serious cut in purses of roughly 63%. The NJSEA is to start the rebidding process next month to get Monmouth leased with purses being guaranteed at $500,000 a day for a seventy-one day meet. The presumption is if a lease is not completed in 2013, the venerable track by the shore would be shuttered.
By the time you read this, the Meadowlands is now being operated by New Meadowlands LLC. According to John Brennan, reporter extraordinaire for The Record, an agreement with the teller's union has been completed with a few minor contracts to be resolved next week.
Make no mistake, if (read that when) casino gambling comes to the Meadowlands, it will be part of the racetrack facility, especially if it comes while Governor Christie is in office. Make no mistake, the Governor will not be looking forward to paying $110 million (and possibly more) as called for by the lease agreement.