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Albuquerque Race Track Ordered to Pay Back Rent

3 October 2002

NEW MEXICO --A state District Court judge has ruled that The Downs at Albuquerque has until Monday to pay the New Mexico State Fair $1,047,000 in back rent.

"Judge Ted Baca made his ruling Tuesday in response to a summary judgment motion filed by The Downs, which rents racetrack and casino facilities from the State Fair.

"`The judge denied their motion and said the rent provision they were disputing is legal,' Christopher D. Coppin, an assistant state attorney general representing the fair, said Tuesday.

"…J. Duke Thornton, one of the attorneys representing The Downs, said Tuesday that The Downs will pay the money to preserve its lease. But, Thornton noted, the judge's decision is a preliminary ruling and The Downs will pursue its case in court.

"New Mexico Attorney General Patricia Madrid, acting on behalf of the State Fair, filed the breach-of-lease lawsuit against The Downs on July 18.

"…Coppin said Baca has not yet ruled on the fair's claim that it is owed another $208,000 interest on delinquent rent money or on a Downs countersuit claiming the fair owes The Downs between $600,000 and $800,000 in capital improvement work on racetrack facilities.

"…The fair's contract with The Downs allows the fair to give The Downs 90 days notice of lease termination for not complying with terms of the lease. Monday marks the end of the 90-day period.

"Faced with that deadline, Thornton said, The Downs filed a motion for an injunction asking the court not to permit the termination of the lease until the dispute was resolved. The judge denied that, as well as The Downs' motion for a summary judgment in its favor…"

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