News Column

Meskwaki tribe seeks foreclosure on National Cattle Congress

May 24, 2014

By Jeff Reinitz, Waterloo-Cedar Falls Courier, Iowa



May 24--WATERLOO -- The Sac and Fox Tribe of the Mississippi in Iowa has asked the courts to foreclose on the National Cattle Congress in connection with a loan dating back to the 1990s.

In a petition filed May 2 in Black Hawk County District Court, the tribe -- also known as the Meskwaki tribe of Tama -- requested a sheriff's sale of the fairgrounds property, Electric Park Ballroom and the former greyhound track to recoup $13.4 million the National Cattle Congress allegedly owes.

NCC officials haven't been served with the suit, but the organization's attorney said he heard about a possible foreclosure in response to NCC's proposed sale of the greyhound track to Warren Transport.

"They said they thought they still had a mortgage on it, which is true. But the terms of the mortgage weren't repayment. The terms of the mortgage were that they (NCC) wouldn't have any more gaming," said attorney Ken Nelson, who represents NCC.

"If they are indeed going to pursuit that, I don't believe they have grounds ... because NCC has done nothing to breach any terms of any agreement they had with the Meskwakis, mainly that they would not carry out any gaming activities in the area without their blessing," Nelson said.

Also listed in the lawsuit are seven other entities that have a possible interest in the properties, including Warren Transport, which last year expressed plans to buy the greyhound site for its new headquarters. Warren has been using part of the property, court records state.

Warren Transport's president, Dick Donnelly, who also serves on the NCC board, couldn't be reached for comment Friday.

The racetrack sale hasn't been finalized.

According to court records, the tribe gave the National Cattle Congress a $9.1 million line of credit in 1995 as part of a bailout when the NCC filed for bankruptcy.

The debt was the focus of a 2004 deal to bring a floating casino to the former greyhound track, which is located near the U.S. Highways 20/63 interchange. Under the proposal, NCC would have paid off the tribal loan with its share of casino revenue, but state gaming officials denied the casino's license.

The tribe's foreclosure petition also claims the National Cattle Congress defaulted on its agreement by failing to do all things necessary to keep its prior racing and gaming licenses in good standing. NCC received its racing license in 1984 and operated races until it hit financial troubles in 1994. After losing the casino bid, NCC applied to resume gambling in 2005. It was denied, and NCC lost subsequent court battles over the issue.

NCC President Wally Mochal he doesn't believe the action will impact events currently scheduled for NCC venues.

"This kind of catches us by surprise, so in terms of events scheduled, we're planning on going right ahead," Mochal said.

"We've got all of our events, and the staff and I are working hard on getting ready for the fair this fall. We are still certainly planning on holding all of the events that we have going," Mochal said.

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(c)2014 Waterloo-Cedar Falls Courier (Waterloo, Iowa)

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Source: Waterloo-Cedar Falls Courier (IA)