- Here’s how desperate things are at NYRA, now that the “band-aid” of their art sale was nixed.
"We probably have a little over $1 million in the bank," said NYRA president and CEO Charles E. Hayward. "D-day is the end of the month." [NY Daily News]D-day might actually be next Tuesday, when Hayward meets with Carole Stone, the head of the oversight committee from which NYRA must get approval for everything, even a company meal at McDonald’s. Hayward will discuss with Ms. Stone the sale of unused land near Aqueduct that would bring in $20 million, possibly enough to get them through to casino time next fall.
I don’t think there’s any way that the oversight board will give NYRA the go-ahead on the sale. They’ve thwarted the association at every turn, opposing the art sale and land sale, refusing to entertain the notion of a bailout, admonishing them for contacting a bankruptcy firm, and not even giving the go-ahead to start the casino construction. If they do bar the land sale, NYRA would be down to two options according to Hayward. "One is shutting down, and that would be catastrophic, or we can enter Chapter 11 so we can still make payroll and purses. Racing still will go on. Our last resort will be to shut down." Perhaps he’s being a bit dramatic here. They could, as suggested to NYRA by the state, indeed raise the takeout (though nobody other than the OTB's wants to see that happen); and the ideas of getting a loan from their casino partner, or securitizing their TV contract with ABC seem like viable ones.
Meanwhile, Senate Majority Leader Joseph Bruno is not having a good week. He was rebuffed by Republican Senate candidate Jeanine Pirro after suggesting that she drop out of her already stumbling race against Sen. Clinton and run for attorney general instead. He was virtually laughed out of the room by Mayor Bloomberg after floating the idea that Mike run for governor, this after Gov Pataki refused to let him use a state helicopter to fly there. His choice to head the state Racing and Wagering board was rejected.
So, it was a very cranky-sounding Joe Bruno who today called for the NYRA franchise to be awarded in the next six months.
Bruno also issued a threat to NYRA not to put up any roadblocks to the request for proposals process that will choose a new franchise holder. "If they won't voluntarily understand that they need to go forward in a viable way to maintain the best racing in the country, if they don't willingly understand that we have to put an RFP together, then I think we have to try to pre-empt them,'' Bruno said.Given the way that NYRA is being told ‘no’ to every cash-raising idea they’ve proposed, it seems to me that a state takeover could be exactly where we’re heading. Why they would possibly want to do so when they could easily either bail NYRA out or allow the land sale, one can only guess.
But the legislature's top Republican lawmaker did not precisely spell out what he meant by "pre-empt'' NYRA. There has been growing speculation that, with NYRA's current financial crisis, the state might try to move in and take over the franchise through its state Racing and Wagering Board and a new oversight panel. [Bloodhorse]