Churchill Downs Incorporated Sells Most of Calder Casino Land for $291M

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Churchill Downs Incorporated Sells Most of Calder Casino Land for $291M

Posted on: November 23, 2021, 10:48h.

Last updated on: November 23, 2021, 10:48h.

Steve Bittenbender

Churchill Downs Incorporated on Monday announced it has reached an agreement to sell more than 115 acres of land it owns at the Calder Casino in Miami Gardens, Fla., for $291 million.

Calder Casino
A picture of the Calder Casino property in 2017, with the casino located in the upper right corner. On Monday, Calder Owner Churchill Downs Incorporated announced a deal to sell nearly 116 acres of the property to a logistics real estate company for $291 million. (Image: Google Maps)

The Louisville-based gaming company said in a statement that Link Logistics will purchase the land. The company is the owner of logistics properties and was founded two years ago by Blackstone.

Churchill Downs officials expect the deal to close sometime in the first half of 2022. In recent quarterly conference calls with stock analysts, CEO Bill Carstanjen mentioned the company’s plans to sell excess land at what once was Calder Race Course, a thoroughbred track near the Dade-Broward county line.

With the pending sale, Churchill Downs will still maintain about 54 acres at Calder, or a little less than a third of the current plot. However, the company said it may sell another 15-to-20 acres that front on NW 27th Avenue. That area currently serves as parking space but could have potential retail uses.

Churchill Seeking Exchanges

As Carstanjen had mentioned to analysts previously, the company’s statement Monday indicated it plans to use the proceeds from the land same to either purchase other land or make investments in property that would qualify as a 1031 exchange. Under the federal tax code, that would allow Churchill Downs to take the proceeds and avoid paying capital gains taxes since, in essence, the company would be trading one parcel or development for another.

The company eyes a similar maneuver for the $197.2 million sale of Arlington Park in Illinois to the Chicago Bears. That deal for the 326-acre property, which was announced nearly two months ago, is not expected to close for another year or possibly not until 2023. The Bears have said they plan to redevelop the racing grounds in the Chicago suburb into a new stadium for the NFL squad.

One such project that may qualify for such an exchange is the $240 million casino project in Terre Haute, Ind., Churchill Downs plans to build. Last week, the Indiana Gaming Commission chose Churchill’s Queen of Terre Haute proposal over three other applicants for the Hoosier State’s 13th casino license.

While the company is doing some work to get ready for construction on the project, there is no timetable for groundbreaking. That’s because of an appeal from the Terre Haute business owner whose company lost the license in June after the commission voted against renewal.

An administrative law judge scheduled a hearing in the case for next week.

Churchill Downs has announced other projects that could qualify for the exchange. In its home city, the company has announced multi-million-dollar expansion projects at its namesake track and Derby City Gaming, a historical horse racing parlor. The company also plans to invest $80 million in a downtown Louisville HHR parlor.

About Calder

For nearly a half-century, Calder offered thoroughbred racing in the Miami area, along with the Hialeah Park and Gulfstream Park. Of those, only Gulfstream still offers live racing.

Churchill Downs bought the track in 1999, and through 2014 the company held live racing there. However, starting in 2015, Churchill Downs leased the track to The Stronach Group, which used the track for its fall meet. Churchill Downs tore down the grandstand and nearly 1,500 stalls at the property.

Racing at Calder officially ended last year after a five-year agreement concluded.

Churchill Downs opened the casino in 2010.