- As a reader brought to our attention the other day, Bill Finley, writing in the NY Times, had a more detailed account of Gov Spitzer's "What Difference Does It Make" comment, though it's still a secondhand account via Assemblywoman Audrey Pheffer.
“I spoke briefly with the governor when we had a breakfast with the Queens delegation, and I brought up the fact that Aqueduct was very important to the community and the state,” she said. “I told him it would be detrimental to close it.That of course strikes at the whole concept of slots parlors being tied to racetracks, both to justify them legally, and to have them benefit (subsidize) the tracks; and as I said before, it's a question that a lot of casino companies are going to start to ask should Aqueduct ever turn into a slots-only location.
Ms. Pheffer continued: “His comment was that people want to put up hotels and convention centers there, and what’s the difference if horses run there or not. I told him there is a big difference. It’s important for our community and for horse racing that it remain open.” [NY Times]
Paul Post has some sentiment from state legislatures that, with only 22 working days left in the present legislative session, the governor needs to extend NYRA's franchise and avoid making any rash decisions.
"There's no sense of urgency from the governor's office and I'm disappointed," [said Assemblyman Roy J. McDonald, R-Wilton]. "This is very important. It makes me nervous. Are we going to get this at the last minute? I don't think anything's going to happen. We've got so many different things the legislature is expected to do."- Last week we discussed Capital Play's idea to make the tracks a big party destination for young people as they apparently are in Australia, and here's an anecdote from my trip to Nashville that may (or may not) be relevant. While waiting for the flight, I went over to a bar to check out the Mets-Yankees game, but it was packed with travelers waiting for their delayed flights to leave. There was one loud group in particular, and it was an ominous sign for our flight that many were wearing cowboy hats, oh man. Sure enough, when we finally boarded, here they came. And their accents quickly made it apparent that the group was from Down Under. Yes, Aussies in Cowboy Hats.
McDonald said Spitzer should give legislators time to take his proposal back to constituents to get feedback on whatever course of action he chooses. [The Saratogian]
And they were having a grand old time. I always like to see people having fun. But others who were stuck at the airport far longer than me were not amused at all. Especially when they broke out into a chorus of Take Me Home, Country Road. I saw one couple walking down the aisle away from them during the taxi to the runway; in other circumstances, that would be worth an armed escort off the plane, but in this case, the sympathetic crew found them other seats. (By sheer coincidence, they turned out to be guests at the wedding, and they shared their tale of woe.)
The point of the story is to once again emphasize the fact that Australia is not New York; it's a different place and a different culture, and what is effective there in getting people to the track may not necessarily work here. I'm pretty confident that you will never hear a group of twenty something-year old New Yorkers singing John Denver songs while Leaving on a Jet Plane, or anywhere else, no matter how much or what they have drank, smoked, or injected. In fact, I dare you to find more than a dozen New Yorkers who would even know the lyrics. So while Capital Play's idea is intriguing and even exciting, they may be on a Rocky Mountain High to think it will work over here.