The Kentucky Horse Racing Commission on Tuesday officially approved Churchill Downs’ purchase of Ellis Park. The $79 million transaction included taking over the project of a track extension in Owensboro’s Towne Square Mall.
After a roughly 7-minute presentation of the basic terms of the deal, KHRC commissioners unanimously voted to approve Churchill Downs’ application to assume control of Ellis Park, which included assuming the development projects already agreed upon.
“It is not only a great move for Churchill Downs, it’s a tremendous economic enhancement for the state of Kentucky, and it’s also great for Kentucky horsemen. It’s a win-win for everybody,” said KHRC commissioner C. Frank Shoop, the lone person to comment before the vote.
Following the vote, chairman Jonathan Rabinowitz said, “Thank you to Churchill Downs for its commitment to our year-round circuit, and for everything they do for the Commonwealth. It’s really exciting for Ellis.”
Within Kentucky, CDI already had ownership of Churhcill Downs Racetrack in Louisville and Turfway Park in Florence.
Over the next year, CDI expects its total investment in Henderson and Daviess counties to be approximately $75 million in addition to the purchase price.
Ellis Park, located in northern Henderson, celebrated 100 years of racing this year. In addition to being recognized as the historic home of summer Thoroughbred racing in Kentucky, Ellis Park also features a gaming facility venue with approximately 300 historical racing machines (HRMs).
“The opportunity to bring Churchill Downs to Owensboro is particularly significant to us,” Jason Sauer, Senior Vice President of Corporate Development for CDI, said in a release. “We are eager to start the work to elevate Ellis Park’s reputation as a summer destination for Thoroughbred racing while delivering a premier gaming and entertainment experience to Daviess County. We look forward to sharing more exciting details about our plans in the coming days.”
CDI will acquire all of the outstanding equity of Ellis Entertainment, LLC, the parent company of Ellis Park. For tax purposes, the transaction will be treated as an asset purchase, allowing CDI incremental tax benefits that will provide additional cash flow and will enhance the overall economics of the transaction.