Officials: No bidders for track a good thing

A deadline to submit offers to buy the financially troubled New Jersey Motorsports Park passed Wednesday afternoon with no bidders.

However, Motorsports Park officials said the lack of interest in an auction scheduled for July 6 actually is a positive development.

"It's a great thing," General Manager Brad Scott said Wednesday evening. "It just means that our bid will be accepted and we'll continue operations as in the past. We're excited."

The park's owner, NEI Motorsports LLC, has made a "stalking horse" bid of $22.5 million on the facility. Any other bidder would have to better that offer, and NEI has the right to counter-offer.

Scott said the purpose of the auction was to "vet out" what the facility's value is. "And it confirms the (NEI) deal on the table is a good deal," he said.

"I think it's a good thing for us," NJMP co-managing partner R.J. Valentine said.

"I think we're going to come out healthier than ever. It's going to be good for the town. It's going to be good for the park," he said.

Valentine said the auction was the idea of the park's main creditor, Merrill Lynch Capital Inc.

"The auction wasn't anything the park actually asked for," Valentine said.

Merrill Lynch wants to make sure that anyone interested in buying the facility can make an offer, he said.

"Merrill Lynch is the legitimate owner," Valentine said. "They hold the mortgage."

On June 6, a group of five investors disclosed their interest in buying the Motorsports Park. The group is sitting out the auction in favor of trying to purchase the park's mortgage from Merrill Lynch.

Steve Durst, a spokesman for that group and a partner, said Wednesday the absence of bidders undermines the credibility of the current ownership.

"We remain very interested," Durst said. "We are not surprised there were no arms-length — or any length — bidders at this alleged auction and we will continue to express our interest to Merrill."

Durst said his group believes the park is greatly overvalued at $23 million, which is the minimum offer for anyone bidding against NEI at the July 6 auction. Durst also restated that the auction's rules were designed to eliminate serious offers.

Valentine rebutted both claims.

"It's probably worth a lot more than what the auction price is going to go for," Valentine said. "Durst is someone that's said he wanted to buy it. If you can do it, pull the trigger. If you can't, don't do anything." Daily Journal

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