Pallone Voices Opposition to Sale of Monmouth Park
Washington, D.C. --- One day after an investment firm consulting the New Jersey Sports and Exposition Authority recommended the state consider selling or leasing Monmouth Park to boost revenues, U.S. Rep. Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-NJ) voiced strong opposition today to the proposed sale of the racetrack. The New Jersey congressman sent a letter to Governor James McGreevey voicing his opposition to a sale and stating that if the state is forced into a lease agreement, the governor should guarantee that Monmouth Park remain a venue for horseracing.
"Selling Monmouth Park would seriously undermine the future of the racetrack," the New Jersey congressman wrote in his letter to McGreevey. "If a private company were to purchase Monmouth Park and was unable to turn an expected level of profit, they could choose to close the track and develop it for other commercial or residential purposes. This is what happened to Garden State Racetrack, and the South Jersey area lost a major tourist attraction.
"I prefer that the state continue to own and operate Monmouth Park," Pallone continued. "However, in the event the state is forced to lease operation of the track to private interests in order to generate increased revenue, any lease must include language that guarantees that Monmouth Park remain a venue for horseracing and preserves the land for open space. Any lease agreement must also continue the state's in-lieu-of tax payment agreement with the Borough of Oceanport."
In his letter, Pallone stressed that Monmouth Park is an important source for tourism and revenue in the coastal Monmouth area that he represents. The equine industry in New Jersey employs 6,000 full and part-time workers and generates $700 million a year. With approximately 49,000 horses, New Jersey has more horses per person than any other state, living at 71 farms or facilities across the state.
"With the redevelopment of Long Branch and Asbury Park, people who visit the shore need strong attractions for summer vacationers," Pallone wrote. "Monmouth Park is an important source of tourism and revenue for Oceanport and all the surrounding towns. Many of these towns rely on revenues and tax payments from the park to balance their budgets."
On Tuesday, consultants from Lehman Brothers advised the Executive Committee of the New Jersey Sports and Exposition Authority, the state agency that owns and administrates both the Meadowlands and Monmouth Park, to sell control of its two racetracks to a private operator. A final decision on the sale is expected from the sports authority next Wednesday.