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A Casino Planned for Track : Horse racing: Hubbard's $100-million proposal also calls for a concert hall and golfing area at Hollywood Park.

June 13, 1992|THOMAS S. MULLIGAN | TIMES STAFF WRITER

R.D. Hubbard, Hollywood Park's chairman, unveiled plans Friday for a $100-million expansion of the park.

The project, including a 16,000-seat concert hall, a Hollywood Park Golf Academy recreation area and a card-club casino at trackside, will generate 3,000 permanent jobs inside Hollywood Park and as many as 4,000 jobs for vendors and other businesses that will serve the facility, Hubbard said. He estimated that the jobs would add $65 million to the park's annual payroll, plus several million dollars more in taxes.

Peter Ueberroth, chairman of Rebuild L.A., called the plan the epitome of the sort of private-sector initiative that is needed to revitalize the Los Angeles area after the riots of six weeks ago.

But Hollywood Park's horsemen--alarmed by the casino proposal--are withholding their approval.

"I can guarantee you that the horsemen view this as competition," said Ted West, a director of the California Horsemen's Benevolent and Protective Assn.

Hubbard met with about seven CHBPA directors at the park Friday morning in what was intended to be an advance briefing on the expansion plans. However, much of the news had already been publicized, creating an awkward situation.

Brian Sweeney, a horseman who attended the meeting, said that Hubbard "inferred that some of the income from (the card club) would find its way into the purses" at the track, but offered no numbers.

In the track's Turf Club, at the news conference during which he announced his plans, Hubbard did provide some details about what the project would entail and how it would be financed.

Hubbard's equal partner in building the $50-million Los Angeles MusicDome will be Robert Geddes, co-owner of the Irvine Meadows Amphitheater and of Avalon Attractions, one of the country's largest concert promoters.

Among the financing options are issuing senior notes--basically I.O.U.s backed by the music dome--issuing new Hollywood Park stock and obtaining "significant" corporate sponsorship, Hubbard said. The partners have already talked with companies about naming the facility after them in exchange for a large payment.

Hubbard and Geddes said they plan to open the music dome by the spring of 1994 and expect to attract 1 million concertgoers in the first year. Geddes said the plans call for holding about 100 concerts a year at the facility, with audiences at the retractable-domed arena ranging from 4,000 to 16,000.

The card club, to be open around the clock seven days a week, would be located on the first floor of the track's Cary Grant Pavilion. As part of the renovation, a first-class restaurant would be placed on the top floor and upscale retail shops would be added on the ground floor. The cost of renovating the Pavilion would be $15 million to $20 million, Hubbard said.

To help win the city's support, Hubbard will donate land for a new, 80,000-square-foot Inglewood police station, to be built by the city at a cost of $12 million to $18 million.

The card club requires voter approval in Inglewood, a city that has twice rejected gambling proposals. Hubbard said that if the casino were turned down, he would scrap the rest of the Pavilion renovations.

Hubbard said he was not prepared to specify exactly where the new jobs would come from. Inglewood Mayor Edward Vincent said he was satisfied from talks with Hubbard that city residents and minority contractors would get a substantial share of the work.

Geddes said the music dome would employ a permanent staff of about 100 and would expand to about 400 workers on concert nights.

State Assemblyman Richard E. Floyd (D-Gardena) said Friday that a large card club would employ more than 2,000. Floyd said he believes there is a finite market for the clubs. He noted that Gardena, the first California city to legalize card clubs, had as many as six clubs at one time, but competition from clubs in other cities has cut that number to two.

Investors seemed to like Hubbard's plans; Hollywood Park shares jumped $1.75, to $9.50, in over-the-counter trading Friday.

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