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Kate Hughes/Lianne Wiker

Noreen Heron & Associates, Inc.





Unveils Plans to Benefit Area Hospitals and Redistribute 85% of Host Tax to Neighbor Communities


Stickney, IL—In its process to award the 10 th casino license, the Illinois Gaming Board scheduled two days of site visits to all seven proposed locations, beginning with Hawthorne Race Course in Stickney. Hawthorne is the only proposed location with an existing facility in place, providing a unique opportunity to open within six months, infusing an additional $200,000,000 to the state economy.


"We have 136 acres available for development. We own it outright. It's zoned, permitted and ready-to-go,” said Tim Carey, president of Hawthorne Race Course. "Plus we have a 400,000 sf. facility, 80,000 sf. of which we can immediately transform into a casino as part of our phased development plan. We were very happy for the opportunity to showcase this to the Gaming Board.”


Hawthorne 's unique development proposal would gut 80,000 sf. feet of the existing clubhouse during a $20,000,000 renovation that could begin the day after the license is awarded and would open within six months. Upon completion, racing operations would be moved into the Phase I casino space and development of the rest of the property would begin immediately. No racing operations would be disrupted during any phase of the project.


"We just let the venue speak for itself,” said Ed Pilarz, President of Altium Development Group, architect of the proposed development, in regards to the Gaming Board visit. "From a development perspective this is everything we could want. We already own the facility. We're in an industrial corridor with easy access to the expressway. And geographically, we're in a very, very high density market, which means we can create a lot of revenue for the state.”


Partners and potential investors who have visited the space continue to be impressed by the realistic possibilities of the proposal. "When we first began talking with Coach Ditka about the project, he was intrigued,” said Carey. "But when he finally saw the space, it really hit home. We know the proposal caught a lot of people off-guard, but when you think about it, the 10 th license here would really benefit the state right away.”


"When I stopped and thought about the magnitude of what can happen here, it makes a whole lot of sense to me,” said Coach Mike Ditka, a partner in the development, at the press conference announcing the bid. "You've got the facility right now. It can be up and running in the shortest period of time. Which creates revenue, which creates jobs, which creates income. To me that's what makes sense.”


Since announcing its bid, Hawthorne's development partners have been approached by potential minority investment partners, and the Village of Stickney has been engaged in conversations with neighboring communities to redistribute 85% of the host city tax to other economically deprived municipalities—a legislative incentive of the 10 th license.


"We've been fortunate to have a number of potential investors reach out to us,” said Joe Canfora, CEO of Merit Management Group, the casino operator partner on the project. "I think that as the word has spread about what we're going to be able to do here, we've piqued a lot of interest. Savvy investors really see the opportunity here, especially in that we could open so quickly.”


Area Hospitals to Benefit from Casino Project


CHAMPIONS Casino's proposed development at Hawthorne Park in Stickney also provides a unique opportunity to simultaneously benefit an economically deprived area while maximizing revenue to the state because of its proximity to downtown and other high-density consumer markets. As such, the development partners have sought specific projects in nearby communities that are in vital need of immediate assistance.


"We're very proud to announce that part of the revenues from this project will go to at least two area hospitals, both of which serve minority populations,” said Carey. " MacNeal Hospital is just 3 miles away, and Holy Cross hospital could very well close down without immediate financial assistance.”


State Representative Dan Burke (23 rd district), who supports the Hawthorne bid, echoed the need. "This is exactly the purpose of the legislation. When Tim and I first spoke about their bid, we both realized immediately that the project could provide real benefit really quickly.”


MacNeal Hospital CEO, Brian Lemon was equally thrilled to get the call. "As part of our community health care mission, MacNeal annually provides millions of dollars in charity care to patients in need. For nearly 100 years we've sustained our health care commitment to the diverse communities that we serve, and the CHAMPIONS proposal is a really innovative way to designate public revenue from a private business to support shared civic obligations.”


Holy Cross Hospital , on Chicago 's southwest side, would also benefit from the proposed casino at Hawthorne Park . "We've already met with them to discuss how we can provide funding relief via our casino development. This is a hospital that provides a vital need to the state, but has huge amounts of unrecovered healthcare costs,” said Carey. "It's a poignant example of how our ability to open within six months can make a difference right away.”


Facts About Hawthorne Park Site

•  4.2 Million people in 30-minute radius

•  2.8 Million people in 10-mile radius

•  19 Million travelers through Midway Airport annually

•  40 Million drivers pass Cicero Avenue on I-55 annually


•  7 miles from downtown Chicago

•  2 miles from Midway Airport

•  ½ mile from I-55

•  3 miles from I-290

•  30+ miles from nearest existing IL casino

•  56% minority population in 3-mile radius



The Estate of Thomas Carey has owned and operated Hawthorne Race Course for 100 years, distinguishing it as the oldest continuously family-owned and operated race track in the nation. As the oldest sports venue in Illinois , Hawthorne Race Course has been an integral player in the legendary heritage of Chicago sports entertainment. The Estate of Thomas Carey is the unencumbered landowner of the 136-acre property on which Hawthorne Race Course exists, and on which Hawthorne Race Course, Inc. and Suburban Downs, Inc. operate as horseracing licensees in Illinois .



Altium Development Group is a real estate investment and development firm that focuses on the gaming industry and specifically gaming related real estate. Altium's partners and clients are gaming and casino companies. Its major business activities involving acquiring, developing, and managing gaming related real estate (casinos) and the ancillary non-gaming real estate uses (hotels, retail, entertainment) required to support the gaming business and operations.



Merit Management Group specializes in the development, financing and operation of hotel-casino properties across the United States and internationally, with particular emphasis on Native American gaming. Merit's key management has over 20 years of experience in the casino and racing industries with expertise in property development, management, operations, high level financial transactions, strategic marketing and gaming strategy and analysis.


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