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Prairie Meadows Granted Iowa Commission Approval to Proceed With $60M Expansion


January 26, 2005     E-mail this page to a friend!

By Mary Lou Coady

ALTOONA, IA-Prairie Meadows just enhanced its potential as Iowa's leading tourist destination on January 25 when the Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission (IRGC) approved the Altoona, Iowa entertainment facility's $60 million expansion request.

Groundbreaking is scheduled early this summer on a 14,000 square feet multipurpose room addition on the northwest corner of the existing facility. This new space will accommodate banquet seating up to 800. That figure will increase to 1200 for concert shows. In addition, a new buffet to seat 380 and a steakhouse accommodating 150 will be built adjacent to the banquet and concert area. Also included in the overall expansion is a new jockey quarters that will double in size.

The casino and table games areas are also part of the overall expansion plan approved on January 25 by the IRGC, adding 500 slot machines to the mix of 1,500 currently approved. Completion of this project will approximately triple the size of the casino housed on the facility's second floor.

Table games will also double in number to 65 games. Currently in play on the second floor are 16 Blackjack tables and other games including Pai Gow, Three Card Poker, Crazy 4 Poker, Roulette, and Craps. The Poker Room in the fourth floor clubhouse next to the simulcast center offers Texas Hold'Em, Omaha 8 Hi-Low, 7 Card Stud, and 7 Card Stud Hi-Low.

Highlighting this year's Thoroughbred racing season, which begins on Thursday, April 21, 2005, is the Prairie Meadows Cornhusker Breeders' Cup Handicap that has been elevated to a Grade II status. That race will be held on Saturday, July 2 during the Iowa Festival of Racing.

Prairie Meadows will offer $15 million in horse purses in 2005, averaging $161,500 each day of the Thoroughbred meet. Average purses for Thoroughbreds in the summer mixed meeting are $79,000 per day. American Quarter Horse daily purses are $34,000 during the mixed meeting. Standardbreds will race for $30,000 per race day in the month of October.

Thoroughbreds will report to the stable area beginning on Sunday, March 20. The half-mile training track opens on Tuesday, March 22.

Prairie Meadows, a not-for-profit organization operated by the Racing Association of Central Iowa, is located approximately 12 miles northeast of the capital city of Des Moines. The inaugural season of horseracing began on March 1, 1989, followed by the casino, which opened its doors on April 1, 1995.

Also as a result of its not-for-profit status, Prairie Meadows has returned to Polk County, Iowa, since 1995 more than $350 million, which includes more than $247 million in excess of debt obligation and other expenses.

2005 Racing Season
Thoroughbred Meet - 47 days
Post Times:  Thursdays, Fridays & Saturdays-6:30 p.m.
Mondays and Tuesdays-3:30 p.m.
Special race dates: Sunday, May 29-1:30 p.m. and Sunday, July 3-3:30 p.m.
                                                
Mixed Meet - 48 days
Post Times:  Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays-6:30 p.m.
Mondays and Tuesdays-3:30 p.m.
Special race date: Sunday, September 4-1:30 p.m.
                                                
Harness Meet - 17 days (schedule tentative)
Post Times:  Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays-6:30 p.m.
Tuesday-3:30 p.m.