About Us

Prairie Meadows began operations as a non-profit organization in 1989 with the goal to promote economic development, jobs, agriculture, and tourism for the state of Iowa.

Our inaugural season of live horseracing kicked off on March 1, 1989, followed six years later with the addition of our casino operations. We continued to grow and expand by adding table game operations in 2004 before welcoming The Meadows Events and Conference Center, AJ’s Steakhouse, and the Triple Crown Eatery in early 2007. Prairie Meadows most recent development, our new 168-room hotel, opened in March 2012 to rave reviews.

The remarkable entertainment options have made Prairie Meadows a featured destination for 24-hour casino fun, live and simulcast horse racing, national and international entertainment, and full-service banquet and dining amenities. Our new facilities are also ideal for hosting large community events, business meetings, trade shows, and celebrations with friends and family.

Prairie Meadows employs nearly 1,300 people across 21 departments with an additional 200 seasonal positions during the spring and summer months. Our full-time employees enjoy a balanced employee benefits package and opportunities to participate in community events.

As a non-profit organization, our gaming taxes and charitable giving contributions give back and help improve the lives of everyone in our central Iowa community. To date, Prairie Meadows has given more than $1.4 billion through taxes, grants and charitable donations to the state of Iowa. More than $600 million of that figure has remained right here in our community to promote economic development, agriculture, jobs, and tourism.

history

History

 

Prairie Meadows was born out of the hard times Iowa’s agricultural economy experienced in the early 1980s. During this economic downturn, several local businessmen had envisioned a business that would create jobs, promote economic development, boost Iowa’s agriculture, and grow tourism in central Iowa.

In response to the entertainment dollars Iowans were sending out of state to the AKSARBEN track in Omaha, the group didn’t see why central Iowa couldn’t provide its own track and keep those dollars working for our economy.

 

In July 1984,

After lobbying the local state legislature, the Iowa Racing Commission issued the state’s first pari-mutuel license to allow construction of a horse track. For the location of their new venture, a 243-acre site of pastureland adjacent to Adventureland Amusement Park in eastern Polk County was selected.

After a few years, the Polk County Board of Supervisors voted to back the $40 million in bonds that were necessary to build the track. Then on March 1, 1989, live horse racing officially opened at Prairie Meadows with cold temps, flurries, and fogged-over windows that made for less-than ideal conditions for the inaugural day spectators.

Unfortunately, the revenues at the track over the next few years were not sufficient enough to keep it operational, especially with the growth of riverboat casino gaming attracting more of Iowans’ entertainment dollars. Eventually, backers of casino gaming at Iowa’s pari-mutuel facilities would work to help pass a bill in the state legislature—and in 1994, the bill was approved by one vote and signed into law by Governor Terry Branstad.

 

In May 1994,

Polk County voters approved the county referendum with 62 percent in favor of adding slots at Prairie Meadows. Early on, it was decided that Prairie Meadows should be managed locally by an unpaid board of directors who lived and worked here in central Iowa. This decision would result in hundreds of millions of dollars of profits remaining in Iowa and the local community rather than leaving the state through the day-to-day operations of an outside management firm.

 

On April 1, 1995,

A capacity crowd of 15,000 poured through the doors of the nation’s first combination horse track and slot machine casino. The addition of slots were met with such unprecedented success that Prairie Meadows was able to repay nearly $90 million of its debt to Polk County in the first 18 months.

 

Today,

A lot of jackpots have been paid out, but the real winners have been the residents of central Iowa. While Prairie Meadows’ unorthodox but highly successful public/private partnership has faced a lot of challenges, it has always been able to reward Polk County’s support through taxes, grants and charitable donations to better the community.

It’s incredible to consider what we’ve been able to accomplish in little more than 25 years. Today guests can be entertained at a beautiful facility that offers a 168-room hotel, state-of-the-art guest amenities, a 2,000 slot machine casino, table games, live and simulcast horse racing, concerts, restaurants and lounges, and a guest service program that is second to none.

But more importantly, our non-profit status has enabled us to give back more than $1.4 billion through taxes, grants and charitable donations to the state of Iowa and to thousands of worthwhile charitable organizations that do so much for our communities. In fact, more than $500 million has remained right here in central Iowa. And over the course of nearly three decades, Prairie Meadows has remained a catalyst for jobs, economic development, agriculture and tourism.

Reflecting on where we began and how far we’ve come, you can see that Prairie Meadows’ success continues to be a story of how volunteers, business leaders, elected officials and dedicated employees came together to make us one of the great public/private business experiments in the entertainment industry.

Board of Directors

2015 Board Meeting Dates

Board meetings will meet in the James Rasmussen Board Room.

  • January 28 @ 2:00pm
  • February—no meeting
  • March 25 @ 2:00pm
  • April 22 @ 9:00am
  • May 1 @ 9:00am
  • May 27 @ 2:00pm
  • June 24 @ 2:00pm
  • July 22 @ 2:00pm
  • August—no meeting
  • September 17 @ 2:00pm
  • October 28 @ 2:00pm
  • November 18 @ 2:00pm
  • December 16 @ 3:00pm

Request Past Minutes

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Executive Committee

robert

Robert Myers

Board Position:
Chair, Executive Committee
Represents: Greater Des Moines Partnership
Term Expires: Nov, 2016

+ Biography
mark

Mark Hedberg

Board Position:
Chair, Executive Committee
Represents: Prairie Meadows
Term Expires: Nov, 2016

+ Biography
r-michael

R. Michael Knapp

Board Position:
Secretary, Executive Committee
Represents: Polk County
Term Expires: Nov, 2016

+ Biography
jack

Jack Peters

Board Position:
Past Chair, Executive Committee
Represents: Horse Industry
Term Expires: Nov, 2017

+ Biography
linda

Linda Grandquist

Board Position:
Chair, Executive Committee
Represents: Prairie Meadows
Term Expires: Nov, 2017

+ Biography

Board of Directors

karen

Karen Novak Swalwell

Board Position:
Board Member
Represents: Polk County
Term Expires: Nov, 2017

+ Biography
mark-c

Mark Cooper

Board Position:
Board Member
Represents: Labor
Term Expires: Nov, 2017

+ Biography
diana

Diana Bishop Ewing

Board Position:
Board Member
Represents: Prairie Meadows
Term Expires: Nov, 2016

+ Biography
lisa

Lisa Moody-Tunks

Board Position:
Board Member
Represents: Polk County
Term Expires: Nov, 2016

+ Biography
ej

E.J. Giovannetti

Board Position:
Board Member
Represents: Taxpayers Association
Term Expires: Nov, 2015

+ Biography
michael

Michael Helak

Board Position:
Board Member
Represents: Greater Des Moines Partnership
Term Expires: Nov, 2016

+ Biography
paul

Paul Rogness

Board Position:
Board Member
Represents: Prairie Meadows
Term Expires: Nov, 2015

+ Biography
john

John Rowen

Board Position:
Board Member
Represents: Prairie Meadows
Term Expires: Nov, 2015

+ Biography
gene

Gene Meyer

Board Position:
Board Member, non-voting
Represents: Greater Des Moines Partnership
Term Expires: Nov, 2016

+ Biography
martha

Martha Willits

Board Position:
Board Member
Represents: Polk County
Term Expires: Nov, 2015

+ Biography

Corporate Personnel

Prairie Meadows Executive Management

gary

Gary Palmer

President/CEO

+ Biography
ann

Ann Atkin

Vice President/COO

+ Biography
brian

Brian Wessels

Vice President/CFO

+ Biography

Prairie Meadows Corporate Management

renee

Renee Montgomery

Director of Casino Finance

+ Biography
julie

Julie Stewart

Director of Marketing

+ Biography
dustin

Dustin VandeWeerd

Director of Facilities

+ Biography
elaine

Elaine Castelline

Director of Finance

+ Biography
clay

Clay Willey

Director of Hospitality

+ Biography
michele

Michele Wilkie

Director of Human Resources

+ Biography
tony-g

Tony Guzman

Director of Information Technology

+ Biography
derron

Derron Heldt

Director of Racing

+ Biography
clint

Clint Pursley

Director of Security

+ Biography
paul

Paul Johnson

Director of Slot Operations

+ Biography
hector

Hector Morales

Director of Table Games

+ Biography
pam

Pam Nash

Assistant Director of Facilities

+ Biography
tony-s

Tony Stork

Assistant Director of Information Technology

+ Biography
polly

Polly Loneman

Assistant Director of Marketing

+ Biography
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