Valley View Downs casino group at crucial deadline

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Today is the deadline by which the would-be developers of Valley View Downs, the star-crossed racetrack and casino planned for Lawrence County, are supposed to demonstrate that they have enough financing available to finally begin construction.

But so far, there has been no white smoke from the Philadelphia-based investment group known as Endeka Entertainment, setting up a possible up-down vote on the future of the project at the March 22 meeting of the state Harness Racing Commission.

On Jan. 25, Endeka attorney James A. Doherty III sent a letter to the harness commission claiming the group had made "substantial progress" in lining up at least $170 million in financing, and requesting an extension to formalize the financing agreement. Three days later, the harness commission granted a 45-day extension, noting that further extensions are "discretionary and not unlimited."

Previously, the commissioners delegated the ability to extend the deadline, and the ability to refuse additional extensions, to the harness racing commission's executive director. However, the commission would still have to vote on whether to revoke, and retake possession of, the license.

The Harness Racing Commission did not return calls and emails seeking comment Wednesday. Mr. Doherty could not be reached, either.

For now, Endeka holds conditional rights to build a harness track to the west of New Castle, which in turn conveys the right to apply for a potentially lucrative casino license.

But if the harness commission were to revoke the harness license, the rights to the casino would likewise be up in the air.

The Valley View Downs project has been troubled from the start, enduring multiple ownership changes and one bankruptcy since it was proposed in 2002. The latest ownership group acquired the rights to the project in October 2012. The group includes Philadelphia insurance executive Manuel Stamatakis and Edward Snider, chairman of Comcast Spectacor, which owns the Philadelphia Flyers.

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Bill Toland: or 412-263-2625.


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