Oceanport Task Force Comments on Decision to Seek Requests for Proposals for the Private Operation of Monmouth Park Racetrack
The Governor’s announcement today that the New Jersey Sports and Exposition Authority would issue, in the near future, a Request for Proposals for the lease of Monmouth Park, including assignment of additional off-track wagering operations, comes as no surprise to the Oceanport Task Force. Any operating lease must protect the Borough’s tax payment as this small community of 6,000 works diligently to overcome the approaching closure of Fort Monmouth (September 2011); reinvents local government in response to the Governor’s 2% cap law; and works cooperatively with its largest taxpayer, Monmouth Park.
We believe the Borough and the Thoroughbred Horsemen have similar goals for Monmouth Park and that both have much at risk as the transition takes shape for horse racing. Horse racing is an important and vital cog not only Oceanport’s economy and the economy of Monmouth County, but for the entire State of New Jersey. Horse racing contributes 7,000 jobs, $110 million in federal, state and local taxes, and 57,000 acres of working agricultural landscape and open space to our “Garden State”.
Equally important for Oceanport is the repayment of a $23 million dollar loan made to the NJSEA that brought NJ Environmental Infrastructure Trust funds to protect Branchport Creek from further contamination, which is essential for the continued operation of the racetrack. Oceanport considers the financing an investment in our quality of life through the protection of the Shrewsbury River system that surrounds our borough.A-2926 authorizing “exchange wagering” and S-2229 to permit pooled wagers; we applaud the Governor’s signing of S-11 and await positive action to include the $15 million purse supplement in the live racing schedule with a suitable length of season. As of Feb. 25 no action had been taken on the status of Monmouth Park’s 2011 racing schedule. By law, the New Jersey Racing Commission must award 141 Thoroughbred dates. Last year Monmouth Park’s “Elite Summer Meet” raced 71 days. Purses almost tripled—about $20 million came from a now expired casino purse supplement—and total pari-mutuel handle increased $123 million for the year. This was a significant return on the investment made toward the purses.
Our own Oceanport Task Force on Monmouth Park has continued to maintain the position that VLT’s, slot machines, or an all-out gaming casino in the Meadowlands is the only way to protect horse racing in New Jersey. The surrounding states of New York, Pennsylvania, Delaware and Maryland now all have some form of gaming at their race tracks. This uneven playing field enables our competitors to lure New Jersey horseman out of State with larger purses and better quality horse racing.
In addition to the enactment of
Oceanport Task Force representatives have maintained an open dialogue with the Hanson Commission, the NJSEA, the Thoroughbred Horsemen and others that will likely play a key role in preserving horseracing at Monmouth Park. Several interested operators have made introductions to the borough and will likely compete to operate the racetrack.
The Oceanport Task Force on Monmouth Park
Chair Michael J. Mahon, Mayor Co.-Chair Gerald Briscione, Former Council Member
Sen. John O. Bennett
Sen. S. Thomas Gagliano
Hon. Caroline Casagrande, Assemblywoman
Hon. Lillian Burry, Freeholder
Hon. Clem Sommers, Former Mayor & Freeholder
Hon. Joseph Irace, Council Member
Mr. Peter Geronimo, IBEW 400 Business Manager
Mr. Alfred DeSantis, Public Member
Mr. David Gruskos, Owner and Member NJTHA
Mr. Bernard Dowd, Veterinarian and Member NJTHA
Mr. Bert Lynch, Public Member
Mr. Joseph Marinaro, Public Member
Mr. James Ryerson, Trainer and Member NJTHA
Mr. Robert Kelly, Public Member
Mr. William Finley, Turf Writer
Mr. Thomas Galligan, Public Member