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Outlook Bright for Center Despite Losses

December 24, 1987|JEFF MEYERS

Despite losses of more than $15 million in six years, the Los Angeles Equestrian Center "is hopeful that '88 will be a turn-around year," said its president, J. Albert Garcia.

The privately owned Equestrian Center has been plagued by problems since it leased 70 acres of land from the City of Los Angeles in 1982 in a corner of Griffith Park between Burbank and Glendale.

Marked by lawsuits and controversy, including community protests over land use and noise, the center was forced in September, 1984, to file for bankruptcy.

Garcia hopes to finally file a reorganization plan after Jan. 1.

In the past six years, more than $18 million has been spent to construct an indoor arena, the 3,500-seat Equidome that is home to the L. A. Colts; an International Grand Prix jumping course, stalls and corrals for more than 600 private, livery and polo horses, and training arenas and bullpens for some 500 show horses.

Although the center is one of the most popular show grounds in California, with more than 30 shows a year, it failed in its bid to become a venue for equestrian competition for the 1984 Olympics, which was a major setback.

But Garcia feels that most of the "bones of contention" involving environmental-impact studies, as well as his company's financial woes, have been resolved.

In addition, Garcia says, the center has received permission, after months of hearings and negotiations, to build an access ramp off Forest Lawn Drive to the Ventura Freeway. A health club, not as large as originally planned, is going to be built, he says.

Polo, specifically the Colts, has become a money-maker, "and we look forward to increased profitability," Garcia said.

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