‘Racino’ gains JPA support

By Chelle Delaney: Quay County Sun

As of Tuesday night, participants invited to join a joint powers agreement (JPA) to apply for a race track and casino in Tucumcari were: 2:1. Remaining are two unknowns.

At its regular meeting on Tuesday evening, the Village of Logan agreed to become a member of the JPA, said a city spokesman. The Village of San Jon also agreed to become part of the JPA, said Bobbye Rose, village manager.

The Village of House agreed to bow out of participating in the proposed plan.
After its Tuesday meeting, the four-member House board voted unanimously not to participate, said House Mayor Sherman Martin, who does not vote unless there is a tie.

“The Village of House did not agree to enter into a joint powers agreement,” Martin said, because of three issues:
1) moral issues
2) negative impact studies had not been conducted, and
3) financial statements of responsibility were inadequate and not in depth.

The Quay County Commission has called a special meeting at 7 p.m. today to consider the proposal. And the city of Tucumcari has added the proposal to its agenda for its regular 6 p.m. meeting on Thursday night.

The Five governmental entities, in Quay County – the villages of House, Logan and San Jon, Quay County and the city of Tucumcari – were asked on Monday night to decide by Friday if they wanted to go for the brass ring – a proposed application for a license to build a $30 million race track and casino, or racino, in Tucumcari.

On Monday night, Warren Frost, project coordinator for the plan, proposed the creation of JPA to create the Quay County Gaming Authority which would apply for a racing license.

“We need to know who’s in and who’s out,” said Frost, who was asked by the Greater Tucumcari Development Corp. to be the project’s coordinator. Frost is a an attorney whose office is in Logan.

Frost was the main presenter at an information meeting of more than 125 people from around Quay County – including representatives from five area governments – about the racino on Monday at the Tucumcari Convention Center. The open session was part of the Greater Tucumcari Economic Development Corp.’s regular monthly meeting.

The track and casino would be an economic benefit to participants and to Quay County, said Frost, adding that “We’ve been working for about two years behind the scenes and under the radar” to bring a race track and casino operation to Quay County.

“Our desire is to make money. Our desire is to have a nice facility so that other jobs are created,” Frost said.

Speed is needed because the authority needs time to follow the state’s procurement regulations and complete its application by July 15, Frost said.

Also, “We need money to pursue this application,” Frost said.

Between $150,000 and $175,000 is needed to put together the application.
In all, the five governmental entities are being asked pony up $60,000, he said.
Another $125,000 is being requested from the city’s economic development tax through a recommendation by the Greater Tucumcari Economic Development Corp., Frost said.

After the creation of the authority, the following is needed to apply for the application, Frost said:

• preliminary architectural plans for the racino
• hiring of a consultant who has experience with gaming applications
• agreement with the management company or companies to operate the racino.

“We will need to pay the professionals for their work to complete the application,” Frost said.

Hobbs application for its racino, for example, is between 250 and 300 pages and has supplemental drawings and blueprints, Frost said.

The GTED has spent $40,000 to put an option on 250 acres of land between the Kmart and the Holiday off of Route 66, Frost said. The land was optioned from Tucumcari residents, Tommy Morris and Elizabeth Morris and the Whittington family, Frost said

Land needed for the racino is expected to be about 160 acres, with the remaining acreage planned for outparcels for future development of hotels or restaurants, Frost said.

“We want to be able to control what happens around the the race track and casino,” Frost said.

Also present at the meeting was Michael Newman, senior vice president of the Dallas-based investment banking firm, First Southwest Co.

Newman said he will work solely with the authority in raising capital for the racino development. At this time, he said he was not certain how or from where the funds would be raised. He cited other projects in New Mexico, where he put together financing packages, such as the jail in Union County. Newman also said he had with institutions in the U.S. and overseas about financing the project.

The estimated cost is $30 million, Frost said.

Within the past two weeks, Frost said he and Franklin McCasland, interim director of the GTEDC and chairman of the Quay County Commission, visited with the New Mexico Horsemen’s Association and the New Mexico Horse Breeder’s Association.
Based on these conversations, Frost said, he learned that the horsemen are looking for more racing dates and a quality facility.

Because of the horsemen’s interest in the track, a representative from each association will be on the authority’s board, Frost said.

During the public comment period, there was little opposition to the project, except from Wes Stewart, pastor of the Temple Baptist Church in Tucumcari. Stewart said he was worried about the “moral implications” of the project.

Sherman Martin, mayor of House, said he was concerned about a rise in crime and the burden that would put on public services.

What the Joint Powers Agreement Calls for:

• Creation of Quay County Gaming Authority – 10 members from:
3 City of Tucumcari
2 Quay County
1 Village of Logan
1 Village of San Jon
1 Village of House
1 NM Horsemen’s Association
1 NM Horse Breeders association

• Contributions requested to put application together

$24,000* City of Tucumcari
$18,000 Quay County
$9,000 Village of Logan
$6,000 Village of San Jon
$3,000 Village of House

• Projected track/casino income distribution

40 percent City of Tucumcari
30 percent Quay County
15 percent Village of Logan
10 percent Village of San Jon
5 percent Village of House

* in addition to funds from GTED.
Source: Draft of Joint Powers Agreement