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Sunday, October 23, 2005

Sunday Night Notes - Oct 23

- Magna has found a partner for its planned ‘Village’ at the new Gulfstream in New York City-based real estate developer Forest City Enterprises. While racing at the revamped facility is on for January 2006, this part of the project is planned for fall, 2007.

The 55-acre Village will offer shopping, residential and hotel units, and entertainment options, with the racetrack what MEC calls the "anchor" of the property. The first phase will incorporate 250 residential units and 400,000 square feet of retail, restaurant, and entertainment facilities.

MEC said it would be "the first lifestyle center in the country built in conjunction with a state-of-the-art Thoroughbred horse racing facility." [Bloodhorse]
Forest City is currently involved in a controversial project to build a basketball arena for the New Jersey Nets smack in the heart of downtown Brooklyn. The project, which would include a total of 17 new buildings, including Frank Gehry-designed high-rise hotels, residences, and office space in addition to the 18,000-seat arena, is meeting impassioned opposition from residents and businesses that would be displaced via eminent domain, as well as from Brooklynites opposed to such a radical alteration to their neighborhood on environmental, aesthetic, and overcrowding concerns. A public hearing the other night demonstrated the high emotions on both sides of the issue.

- In Maine, Scarborough Downs is suing Shawn Scott, a Las Vegas investor who is credited with helping to legalize slots at the state’s harness tracks. Or near them anyway. Scott’s company owned Bangor Raceway and worked to place on the 2003 state-wide ballot the referendum that would legalize slots at both Bangor and Scarborough Downs if the local residents also approved. While Bangor approved the slots which will open there in a couple of weeks, Scarborough voters declined. Scarborough looked to two other communites, Westbrook and Saco, for approval to house the casino there.

It is these local votes, which rejected slots in all of the locales, that are the subject of the lawsuit.
Scott’s original draft of the citizen’s initiative allowed the Downs a year, until December 2004, to seek local approval from Scarborough or a nearby town.

When the Downs asked Scott for an additional year, until December 2005, the lawsuit alleges, Scott then changed the wording to shorten the deadline to December 2003. That wording – and the 2003 deadline – was passed into law when the referendum was approved by Maine voters.

The suit then alleges a litany of wrongdoing by Scott, including that he backed two political action committees opposing the Downs’s efforts to get local approval in Scarborough, Saco and Westbrook, where the Downs sought to relocate; that he was behind a lawsuit trying to block the Westbrook referendum; and that he tried “to intimidate the Westbrook City Council into refusing even to hold a referendum.” []
With his slots monopoly at Bangor intact, Scott sold the track to Penn National for $51 million - $50 million more than Scott paid to acquire the track's operating company. Scarborough is seeking that much money in the suit, claiming that their track would have been worth that much if not for the illegal interference in the local referendums.
"Defendants have made millions of dollars (in) this scheme, never having invested any meaningful resources into Maine harness racing and have intentionally caused plaintiff's business, Maine's largest commercial track, to suffer and be in financial peril," the lawsuit states. [Portland Press Herald]
- Good job by Golden Gate Fields track announcer Michael Wrona today, as Good Lord Gracie and Glamorous Lacey battled head and head down the stretch in Sunday's second race. Try it yourself – fast, three times. Good Lord Gracie and Glamorous Lacey... “I’m going to have to get a new set of teeth after that one,” Wrona cracked on-mic after the race.