NEW LONDON – A foreclosure auction is not something Waterford Speedbowl owner Terry Eames wants to see happen to his track, and on Monday he found out he’ll get at least one more racing season to stave an auction off.
The agreement made in Superior Court in New London Monday allowed Eames to avoid an auction date that would have put the 2014 racing season at the track in jeopardy.
Judge Emmet Cosgrove put in place an agreement Monday that will set an Oct. 18 foreclosure auction sale for the Speedbowl. The parties involved will return to court Friday to finalize details of the agreement for the Oct. 18 auction.
It was the outcome Eames was hoping for on Monday. Rocco Arbitell, who moved to have the foreclosure action taken, had been expecting a foreclosure date to be set since last October. Arbitell is part of a group of creditors still owed money from a debt reorganization plan arranged through state bankruptcy court.
Arbitell’s lawyer argued to have an April 12 foreclosure auction sale date set on the property.
“I’m very happy that I’m going to give the racers another season,” Eames said. “I didn’t know exactly how that was going to happen, but I never lost faith that that’s what I was going to do. If we had lost this battle I would have got in the car and got on the phone and figured out some other way to make this season happen.”
The agreement to set the Oct. 18 auction date is contingent upon the stipulation the track management meet the demands of town officials for repairs to track grandstands. The agreement also means Eames and his management team has to agree to independent financial oversight for the 2014 racing season.
“I’m still going to run the operations,” Eames said. “The order that will get filed Friday will talk specifically to the financial terms. It really doesn’t change things in term of the management of things.”
The track is scheduled to open March 29-30.
“The judge is giving him the opportunity to run the facility and more power to him,” Arbitell’s attorney William McCoy said Monday. “I hope it works.”
Arbitell and the rest of the creditors moved to have foreclosure action retaken against the Speedbowl ownership and that action began in March. The State of Connecticut Judicial Branch lists the plaintiffs in the action as Rocco Arbitell, Peter Borelli and the Committee of Sale.
In July 2007, Arbitell, a Southbury businessman and local racing supporter, along with his business associate Borrelli, stepped in to offer Eames and his ownership group, 1080 Hartford Road LLC, financing to avoid a foreclosure action being taken then by former mortgage holder Washington Mutual Bank.
The deal with Arbitell was announced a day before the track’s auction date for a foreclosure in 2007.
In May 2008 Arbitell brought his own foreclosure action against the ownership group after former track operator Jerry Robinson failed to pay the Speedbowl’s property taxes.
Facing another pending foreclosure auction, Eames and 1080 Hartford Road LLC filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in October 2009. A debt reorganization plan was accepted by bankruptcy court in January 2012 and the ownership cleared bankruptcy not long after that.
Eames owes about $1 million to Arbitell and about another $1 million to the other creditors involved. The track is valued at just over $3 million.
Eames said he’s confident he will find a way to avoid reaching an auction. Through most of the 2013 racing season Eames was optimistic that he was close to a deal to refinance the track, but that possibility fell through in the fall.
“We’re confident that there are people out there, both investors and racing enthusiatsts that would like to see the track preserved,” Eames said. “… That’s the reason I’m confident. The place is headed in the right direction. We’ll see an increase here this year over last when the books are done. The car count was in good shape. We have some things happening at area racetracks that should make things even better for the Waterford Speedbowl.”