Over 115 acres for $291M

Churchill Downs to sell land near Florida's Calder Casino to Blackstone's real estate brand

Calder Casino in Miami Gardens, Florida.
Reading time 2:06 min

Louisville-based Churchill Downs Incorporated has signed an agreement to sell 115.7 acres of land near Calder Casino in Miami Gardens, Florida, for $291 million or approximately $2.5 million per acre, the gaming company announced on Monday. CDI will be selling the land to owner of logistics real estate assets Link Logistics, which was established in 2019 by investment group Blackstone.

The closing of the sale is subject to various closing conditions, and the operator of the legendary Kentucky Derby expects it to close “in the first half of 2022.” Churchill Downs plans to use “certain proceeds of the sale” to purchase or invest in replacement property.

Following the closing of the transaction, CDI will retain ownership of approximately 54 acres of the current 170-acre parcel of land on which the company’s Calder Casino sits. The company “may sell” 15-20 acres of land along NW 27th Ave. in the Miami Gardens area “in the future” for retail development, according to a press statement.

Churchill acquired the then Calder Race Course in 1999. Calder Casino opened in 2010, featuring a 100,000 square foot gaming floor with 1,100 slot machines, as well as electronic roulette and blackjack. It also offers a player’s club, a VIP lounge and several dining options. Its horse racing operations were leased to the Stronach Group in 2014, but this deal ended last year, leading to the track’s closure.

Earlier this year, CDI also agreed to sell the Arlington International Racecourse in Illinois to NFL's Chicago Bears for $197.2 million. The sale is expected to close in late 2022, early 2023, and involves a total of 326 acres. Similar to the newly-announced Florida sale, CDI plans to use the proceeds of the Arlington sale to purchase or invest in replacement property that qualifies as an Internal Revenue Code §1031 transaction.

These sales have been reached as Churchill Downs embarks on new major investments and projects. In August, CDI announced three major multi-year capital investments to transform key areas at the home of the Kentucky Derby: plans include the debut of a new project each year over the next three years. This will begin with the Homestretch Club for Kentucky Derby in 2022, culminating with a Paddock area redesign for the 150th running of the derby in 2024. 

Last month, the company withdrew a bid in Illinois for a Waukegan casino license and announced plans to open a new casino-style venue in downtown Louisville. It will be called Derby City Gaming, and will open with 500 historical horse racing machines.

And earlier this month, Churchill Downs was awarded the license to develop and operate a casino in Vigo County, Indiana, after beating rivals Full House, Hard Rock and Premier Gaming in a 7-0 vote from the Indiana Gaming Commission. CDI is now set to develop its proposed $190 million Queen of Terre Haute casino on 20.9 acres of undeveloped land on Honey Creek Drive, near Haute City Center Mall.

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