Hard Rock Buys Stake in New Jersey Racetrack Manager

Hard Rock International Inc., the operator of hotels, casinos and themed bars, bought an equity stake in the New Meadowlands Racetrack LLC, as it seeks to gain from the site’s expansion and possible gaming developments.

The investment is long term and “extends to any projected future developments” at the East Rutherford, New Jersey, racetrack, Hard Rock said today in a statement. Hard Rock, based in Orlando, Florida, and owned by the Seminole Indian tribe, didn’t disclose financial terms of the transaction.

New Meadowlands, a management company that took over operations of the state-owned track in December 2011, plans to build a $100 million grandstand, opening in November, that will include more higher-end dining, Chairman Jeffrey Gural said in a telephone interview.

Hard Rock will assist in booking concerts at the track and could play a role as a casino manager should New Jersey allow slot machines at the site, Gural said. Atlantic City has a monopoly on casinos in New Jersey and Governor Chris Christie has said he won’t back any expansion until he sees whether a turnaround effort at the state’s gaming resort begun in 2011 pans out.

“The governor has made it clear he wants to give Atlantic City five years, after that he’ll take a look at expanding gaming,” Gural said.

The racetrack is located about nine miles from New York City. Slot machines at other facilities closer to Manhattan have taken business from Atlantic City, Gural said.

“Aqueduct is killing,” Gural said, referring to the state-owned horse track in the New York borough of Queens, next to which a casino owned by Malaysia’s Genting Bhd. (GENT) was added in 2011.

Atlantic City “has gone from having an exclusive to having competition in every state.”

Gural, 70, is also chairman of New York-based real estate brokerage firm Newmark Knight Frank.

To contact the reporter on this story: Christopher Palmeri in Los Angeles at cpalmeri1@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Anthony Palazzo at apalazzo@bloomberg.net

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