CHICAGO - Holders of $38.8 million of sports facility revenue bonds that were recently refunded by Polk County, Iowa, have until July 15 to tender their bonds, according to the bond trustee.

The revenue bonds, which financed construction of the formerly bankrupt Prairie Meadows race-track, must be tendered by that date, or bondholders will be "precluded from sharing in any distribution," First Trust National Association said in a letter to bondholders dated June 18. After July 15, any funds held by the bond trustee will be returned to Polk County, the letter says.

First Trust said that bondholders will be paid all principal and accrued interest through yesterday, when Polk County turned over proceeds from the refunding to the trustee.

On June 10, Polk County sold $38.8 million of general obligation refunding bonds in a competitive sale to pay off the outstanding sports facility revenue bonds that were sold in 1984 to build the race-track and remarketed in 1987.

The GO bond issue was the key component of a reorganization plan that the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Des Moines approved last month. The plan allowed the county to pay off the revenue bonds with GO bonds before Dec. 1. 1997, the optional call date for the revenue bonds. The racetrack went bankrupt in 1991.

Mark Stevens, assistant county manager, said the county yesterday assumed ownership of the racetrack from the Racing Association of Central Iowa, as outlined in the reorganization plan.

In the letter, bondholders were instructed to forward their bond certificates to First Trust at either one of two addresses. If sent by mail, the certificates should be forwarded to First Trust National Association, Corporate Trust Operations, 3rd Floor, P.O. Box 64111, St. Paul, Minn. 55164-0111. If delivered by hand or overnight mail, the certificates should be forwarded to First Trust National Association, 180 E. Fifth St., 3rd Floor, Bond Drop Window, St. Paul, Minn. 55101.

First Trust recommended that the certificates be sent by registered or certified mail. The trustee also said that bondholders should specify an address where the payment should be sent.

The GO bonds, which were won by a group headed by Goldman, Sachs & Co., are insured by Financial Guaranty Insurance Co. and rated triple-A by Moody's Investors Service, Standard & Poor's Corp., and Fitch Investors Service. Refunding the revenue bonds will save the county about $20 million over the life of the bonds, Stevens said.

In 1984, the county issued $40 million of revenue bonds to build the racetrack. It remarketed the bonds under a lease-purchase agreement in 1987. The racetrack opened in May 1989.

Under the lease-purchase agreement between the county and the racing association, the county was required to provide the difference between the $4 million annual debt service on the bonds and the revenues derived from a wager tax at the track. But revenues were lower than expected.

The racing association filed for bankruptcy in November 1991 after the county board of supervisors voted not to provide a $5.5 million subsidy for a live racing season in 1992. Without the subsidy, racetrack officials said they could not afford to present live horse races, so they simulcasted races from other racetracks. The track began a 90-day live racing season on May 7.

The county's sports facility bonds are rated Caa by Moody's. The county's general obligation debt is rated A by Moody's and AA by Standard & Poor's Corp., which does not rate the sports bonds.

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