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EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ-The New Jersey Sports & Exposition Authority, a state agency headed by CEO George Zoffinger, has set in motion a process that it hopes will result in the sale or lease of its two horse racing properties, the Meadowlands Racetrack here and Monmouth Park in Oceanport, NJ. Citing state budgetary concerns and a desire to pay down the debt load of its other holdings, state officials say they hope to garner $250-300 million from the disposition.

According to Zoffinger, the agency is in the process of hiring an investment banking firm to put a number on the assets and assist with the sale or lease process. The aim is to have a request for bids ready to go within the next month.

Officials won’t rule out the separate or package sale or lease of the Meadowlands Racetrack, which the NJSEA built from scratch in the mid-70s, and Monmouth Park, which it acquired from a private group 15 years ago. Both venues remain profitable and could become more so if a current proposal to install video lottery terminals is successful.

Suitors for the properties will likely include Magna Entertainment, a Canada-based company headed by Frank Stronach that has aggressively been buying up racetracks all over North America. Stronach has expressed considerable interest in the facilities, especially Monmouth Park, in recent years.

Also expected to be in the mix is Churchill Downs Inc., which has expanded its holdings beyond the fabled namesake Kentucky racetrack to include such venues as Hollywood Park in Los Angeles, Arlington Park in Chicago and Calder Race Course in Miami.

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