Directors of the Western Regional Off-Track Betting Corp. this morning authorized the purchase of the Hotel at Batavia Downs from ADK Hospitality LLC for $8 million.
The action, which was approved by a 13-1 margin with one abstention, provides WROTB with the opportunity to "expand our customer service to our patrons and to our guests who come here," said WROTB President/CEO Henry Wojtaszek following the public benefit company's board meeting.
"We had an opportunity to strike an agreement with the current owners and we believe that the price is appropriate and we believe it will help enhance what we have to offer to our guests."
Wojtaszek said WROTB has submitted a financing plan that he feels is "appropriate and reasonable, so now we're going to go ahead and try to complete the deal."
He said he anticipates a closing date sometime in April and is looking forward to be able the market the hotel more extensively.
"We will have a renewed focus on marketing," he said, noting the many tie-ins to the casino such as weddings, trade shows, movie nights and dinner/overnight packages. "Being able to be marketed by us will be a big advantage."
Wojtaszek said the plan is to continue contracting with Hart Hotels to manage the hotel on Park Road.
Chief Financial Officer Jacquelyne Leach reported that WROTB will be able to capitalize on historically low interest rates, utilizing 20-year tax exempt bonds to project a savings of $600,000 as it bundles the refinancing of a balloon payment due in October 2023 with the hotel purchase expenditure.
"Being a public benefit corporation, we have to publicly advertise this," she said, adding that she currently is negotiating with Key Bank and Tompkins Bank of Castile.
In November 2016, Batavia Downs Gaming and members of the hotel ownership team cut the ribbon on the 84-room, luxury hotel.
ADK Hospitality LLC is a Buffalo-based development team that purchased land from WROTB in March 2015 and invested $7.5 million to build the facility.
Director Paul Lattimore Jr. (Cayuga County) cast the "no" vote. An email to Lattimore, who joined the meeting via Zoom, has yet be be returned.
Stage Purchase May Lead to More Concerts
WROTB directors also approved a resolution, by a 14-1 vote (with Lattimore voting against it), to purchase the stage and roof truss, along with crowd control barricades and two storage containers from Audio Images Sound & Lighting, a Batavia firm, for use at the corporation's Summer Concert Series at a cost of $129,460.
"This is certainly a good economic move for Batavia Downs. We believe that purchasing this equipment ... will pay for itself within the first two to three years of the purchase. We intend to have concerts for a long time," Wojtaszek said.
"The equipment that we are purchasing is in very good shape and we have a capable maintenance staff here on site that will be able to keep that in good shape for years to come. And we're looking to have more concerts than the six to eight that we've had."
The 2021 concert series has yet to be finalized but two performers have been announced -- Steve Augeri, formerly of Journey, on June 25, and Don Felder, formerly of The Eagles, on July 9.
Other concerts and their tentative dates are Skid Row, June 25; The Machine (Pink Floyd Tribute), Aug. 7.
Wojtaszek said his leadership team is trying to set up more concerts, possibly starting in May. If necessary, they would take place in a "pod" setting, he said, with about 1,500 in attendance instead of 5,000.
Directors approved a related resolution to spend up to $274,000 to pay the Summer Concert Series musical acts.
In other developments, directors:
- Approved the sale of the McKinley OTB branch in Buffalo to Alaskan Properties I LLC for $900,000.
Wojtaszek said the buyers are a retail business and hopes to close the transaction during the summer.
Leach reported that proceeds will go toward paying down two loans, a letter of credit pertaining to workers' compensation self-insurance and to the capital acquisition fund.
- Approved an agreement with Cumulus Broadcasting (97 Rock FM) to become the title sponsor the the 97 Rock Tour Bus for April 2021 throught March 2023 at an annual cost of $20,000.
Benefits to the corporation include hundreds of on-air promotional mentions, the sponsor log and link on the 97 Rock website, ability to distribute promotional coupons, a vinyl wrap of the logo on the tour bus, three "remote location" broadcasts, and four tickets to a suite at a Buffalo Bills game.
- Received financial reports as follows:
-- WROTB distributed $55,455 in surcharge to the member municipalities for December and will distribute $69,342 for January. The corporation also generated operational earnings of $81,691 in January.
-- Batavia Bets, the company's interactive online wagering platform, saw a 67-percent increase in January, bringing in $581,000, and is up 43 percent in February at $317,000.
Previously: Hotel ribbon cutting officially marks 'transformation' at Batavia Downs Gaming