Downs gets racino bid

ALBUQUERQUE (KRQE) — New details are out on the controversial proposal for a new multi-million dollar casino on the state fairgrounds in Albuquerque.

Expo New Mexico has picked a bidder and now the project will go up for a vote.

The Downs, the same group that is there now, is the winning bidder.

This is the same group that was just slammed by an audit for not paying its bills to the state, but in the end State Fair officials said they are the best pick.

"More of a partnership so it doesn't become an island within our own facility," said Dan Mourning, general manager of Expo New Mexico.

Mourning said he hopes the new proposed lease will bring new opportunity.

For the first time ever, Expo New Mexico put out request for bids for the 93 acre plot of land that makes up the racetrack and casino.

The Downs has had the lease since 1985 and it expires in January.

"We choose this process because that's what we wanted," Mourning said. "We wanted to see what a competitive bid would do, rather than a sole source."

He said in the end The Downs was the best choice, beating out the other bidder Laguna Development.

Under the new lease The Downs would build a new 50-thousand square foot casino, with double the slots away from the racetrack, and about 600 feet from the corner of Central and Louisiana.

Also new under the lease The Downs would pay more than $3 million a year in rent to the State Fair, instead of the $2 million it pays now.

It will also maintain the buildings itself.

"We are not going to be paying utilities, maintenance of any of the old buildings," Mourning said. "And that was problematic in the old existing lease."

With the new agreement The Downs would also have to give the State Fair up to $1.3 million a year if the racino really rakes in the cash.

The Downs has also agreed to hold twelve events a year at Tingley Coliseum.

Some neighbors are dead set against the idea of a new casino closer to their homes.

If the State Fair Commission votes yes on Wednesday, the State Board of Finance would still have to approve the deal.

If The Downs gets the green light for the lease, Mourning said they hope to have their casino built by next August.

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New Mexico (change)

New Mexico is located in the southwestern region of the U.S. Inhabited by Native American populations for many centuries, New Mexico has also been part of Imperial Spain, part of Mexico, and a U.S. territory.
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Governor: Susana Martinez
Lieutenant Governor: John Sanchez
Attorney General: Gary King
Secretary of State: Dianna J. Durán

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