Sorry to keep beating the same drum over and over, but based on some of the comments that are being posted on here, there is apparently still some confusion about Les Bois Park, so here goes again.
My colleagues and I were not trying to shut down horse racing at Les Bois Park. If that were the case, we would have avoided the cumbersome Request for Proposals process altogether and just agreed to change uses. In fact, we streamlined the RFP process and advertised nationally, with the hope that a credible operator would submit a reasonable proposal to run the track.
It HAS been possible to find an operator that passed the County’s background check. Capitol Racing did. They also had horse racing experience and did a very credible job running the place. Unfortunately, according to the Idaho Racing Commission’s annual reports, in 2006, Capitol lost about $1.1 million, in 2007 they lost about $1.2 million and in 2008, they lost nearly $1.3 million. Perhaps the problem finding an operator now has to do with the fact that no one wants to risk a $1.4 million loss in 2009.
Some people have asked: How does not running the track benefit the community more than running it with an operator that hasn’t met our standards? History speaks for itself on this issue. It is apparent to me that everyone would have been better off in the long run had Lariat Productions not been given the opportunity to run the operation.
There can still be income realized, whether the track is leased out for horse racing or not. Perhaps rather than horse racing, we should pursue the possibility of hosting dressage competitions at Les Bois Park.
LesBois Trainer wrote: “Since when does an annual audit of the Green Group bingo become an “investigation” by the Idaho Lottery?” The documents I have seen, November Allegations and Consent Order, indicate that there has been an ongoing investigation of a number of alleged violations, above and beyond a typical annual financial audit. It is fair, in my opinion, to say that Greene Idaho is under investigation.
Please be sure to note that the November 12, 2008 Revocation Order announces the Lottery’s intention “to revoke Greene Idaho’s charitable gaming license.” In the January 16, 2009 Consent Order, Greene Idaho admits to violating Idaho Law on at least two occasions, and “agrees to pay a $1000 fine to the Idaho State Lottery.” Considering the gravity of all of the initial charges against Greene Idaho, which were levied as recently as last November, it behooves us to ensure that the forthcoming results of the audit are squeaky clean.
LesBois Trainer also wrote: “You should follow your campaign promise of full disclosure and let everyone know the real reason you rejected both proposals, YOU DON’T WANT HORSE RACING AT THE WESTERN IDAHO FAIRGROUNDS ANYMORE.” You don’t have to agree with what we have done thus far, but that doesn’t mean I have broken any campaign promises or been less than completely open and forthright about the nature of the difficulties we have been having in getting a credible operator to run horse racing at Les Bois Park.
Eric asked me to compare the situation with Les Bois Park and the Hawk’s Stadium. In or around 1989, then Ada County Commissioners Vern Bisterfeldt, Judy Peavey-Derr and Mike Johnson entered into three long-term lease agreements for pieces of the Western Idaho Fairgrounds. Les Bois Park was leased out for $100 per year, an amount that was annually adjusted by the Consumer Price Index. Some maintenance and improvement of the facility was included in the deal. The RV Park, on the river side of the fairgrounds, was leased out in a similar arrangement, starting at $50 per year.
Hawks Stadium was a little different. The baseball franchise leased the ground under the stadium for $1 a year for 50 years, paid up front, and then built the stadium there. At the end of the 50-year lease, ownership of the stadium will transfer to the County. We still have over 30 years to wait. It won’t take nearly that long to figure out an appropriate course of action for Les Bois Park.