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Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Nice Report - Don't Hold Your Breath

Here's a link, courtesy of the Albany Times-Union's Capitol Confidential, to the full final report of the Belmont Park Redevelopment Study. [WARNING: Large, slow-loading PDF file] The conclusion of the report, calling for slots, a hotel and retail, is no surprise of course.....though the senior housing thing caught me a bit off guard. It spells out, with a great amount of thought and detail, various options for the site - standalone racino, small or large hotel with racino, or a hotel with the racino in the grandstand. I don't see any reason why it wouldn't be the latter, what with all the empty and wasted space there.

It's a nice report with a lot of color pictures, charts and diagrams; but it pretty much ignores one pretty critical element. The final section, titled Next Steps, calls for an Economic Impact Analysis, a Gaming Analysis, and an Implementation Process, including the always-hilarious Request For Proposals (RFP). However, though it notes, almost in passing, that "The Governor has recently introduced a bill that would provide for VLT gaming at Belmont Park Racetrack," it glosses over the fact that the state's tax law specifically prohibits VLT's at racetracks of the non-profit racing association known as Belmont Park racetrack and the Saratoga thoroughbred racetrack...and that the sitting Assembly Speaker, Sheldon Silver, is adamantly opposed to allowing them there. There should be a whole section, if not an entire new report, devoted to how to get such a bill passed!

James Odato reiterated in his piece in the Times Union that the issue of Delaware North wanting a higher cut at their Aqueduct racino should Belmont come to fruition is a key sticking point in the negotiations with the state.

Legislation would have to be passed to alter the VLT rates to benefit Delaware North — and the company isn't planning to give the state its $370 million up-front payment for rights to operate at Aqueduct until such legislation is in place, according to company officials.

Because Paterson is planning to receive that $370 million by March 31, the legislation is critical in the next few weeks, Delaware North says.
Sounds like Delaware North is counting on that deadline to force the Governor's hand. But if some of the terms we've recently seen used to describe his administration - "bewildered," "confused," "frustrated," and "unable to provide simple, consistent answers" - are true, Delaware North shouldn't count on him even remembering that date.

Senate Minority Leader Dean Skelos expressed reservations that the report delivered only "very general recommendations'' about Belmont that could take another year to develop into specifics. [Bloodhorse] But actually, compared to what's been going on (or not) at Aqueduct, that would be quite a bit of progress. A racino at Belmont, as logical as it's always seemed to me, is in reality just theoretical at this point; the Aqueduct racino, or at least the concept of one, is theoretically a reality, and look how long that's taking! We could be into the second Obama administration before we see one at either.


Anonymous said...

Watchful Horseman

What is there left to say ?
- NY pollies on the left, simply don't communicate, or wish to acknowledge the right, concerning these racing projects, period.

Aqueduct - we all knew goalposts had moved to accommodate DelNorth, but now it's proclaimed from within, to the public domain.

Obvious standouts being - WHEN, did DN get assurances of a greater % of VLT revenue ?

This was never in the MOU on offer from NY State. Did the Governor’s office give DN this assurance before he accepted their $370M up-front payment ??

Nor was & as opposed to - Times Union - (James M Odato), 24/3/09 - 'the operators of the proposed Aqueduct DN, VLT racino in Queens, must be granted a greater share of VLT revenues if Belmont gets a racino. Under the deal in which Delaware North agreed to build the racino at Aqueduct, the Buffalo-based gaming company was assured a greater fee if Belmont gets a racino, too.'

This project seems destined again for court, even bidders in earlier bidding rounds I believe, are in midst of meaning legal consultations on their substantial loss of bidding/proposal monies…

The Horsemen via Empire & other parties, remember, spent much Vitiman M,(mula), in this twisted exercise !! Back to Court we go….

Funny thing is, further goalposts are moved for Delaware North, the wider the litigation entry
points, are for all losing parties.

Anonymous said...

Looks like I made the right move shipping my mares to PA, be a long long time before the horsemen see any revenue from these VLT's, and don't be surprised if the percentage dedicated to purses and breeder awards suddenly shrinks (again).

All you need to do is look at Finger Lakes to see DEL North's MO.

Anonymous said...

Where's Shelly Silver? What does he get in return?

Anonymous said...

NY horse owners and breeders are getting hosed. I would bring back Francis, Foye, Rifkin and the other Spitzer pawns to testify as to what really happened. Governor Paterson doesn't know a mane from a tail, but he went along with Spitzer's dirty deal made via political pressures, chits and cronieism. I bet he would take it back if he could, or do it again in a more tansparent fashion. in lieu of a fair process, just give the tens and millions of dollars back to the bidders and fagetaboutit until such tiome that the big deal at Belmont Park is ready to go. Then, it's just a matter of "trusting" Steve Wynn and the Dali Lama to lead us to the promised land! Remember Wynn from the VLT hearings? NY politicians actually bought into his nonsense!

Anonymous said...

Watchful Horseman

Delaware North & their political co-horts, probably would have gotten away with this, if DN had had, the finance.

As it stands now, libelous statements, are out in the open -

I'm sure Assemblywoman Audrey I Pheffer, (D-Queens) & Senate Minority Leader Dean Skelos (R-Rockville Center) will appreciate this…let the dice roll.

Alan - did u ever get throu to Pheffer's office.

Anonymous said...

Go back in time to when the Spitzer administration was insisting that the "Big A" be shuttered and parceled up and sold to the Port Authority and developers. Then, everything racing, gaming, entertainment and real estate development related would take place at Belmont Park. This being the scenario driven by Fields, Mulrow, Vornado, Related, Powers, Wynn and a very "inside" Albany team known as Excelsior Racing Associates. What if DelNorth all along was intending, as part of a grander strategy to default at Aqueduct, then team up with the above-mentioned folks at Belmont Park? Governor Paterson was Spitzer's LT Governor back in early 2007, so surely he was privvy to all the talk of the Administration's best case scenario for Aqueduct and Belmont Park?

For the benefit of the Queen's community, I certainly hope not, as they should get what they supported via DelNorth fulfilling it's terms of agreement with the state, or one of the other bidders coming forth and starting at Aqueduct.

Anonymous said...

Watchful Horseman

Ok some backs are up ;

In answer to previous blog -
'or one of the other bidders coming forth and starting at Aqueduct'.

Classify your 'another bidder' ?

Previous NYRA, Franchise Bid - Empire Racing Associates, invited Delaware North, into their fold for this bid/project.

Delaware North, suddenly, left them cold, when Empire Racing / Horseman, ran out of bidding/proposal monies. DN then went coldly alone, for the Aqueduct Franchise.

Empire Vice President, Dennis Brida, a former executive director of New York Thoroughbred Breeders, being a former president of the New York Thoroughbred Horsemen's Association & six of Empire's eight remaining board members were thoroughbred owners, including Chairman Jeffrey Tucker, who had invested millions in Stonebridge Farm, a state-of-the-art Gansevoort training facility.

And contrary to recent blogs / media statements, Racing Icon, Marylou Whitney, is not broke.

Mrs Whitney was a main backbone & ex-honorary chairwoman of Empire Racing Associates.

She resigned, not through published, probity demands for the bidding principals, as she was aware of the in-depth financial requests, but was sadden, by the continual, political rubbish & cold exit of Delaware North, from the 'Family', after they were invited, so warmly in.

Who is & Has been, qualified as a Bidder....hummm..
let these dice roll….over the table !

Anonymous said...

DelNorth double crossed the horsemen at Empire Racing Associates. Before that it was Magna and Churchill pulling out of Empire after they negotiated signal distribution deals with the old NYRA while still obligated to bargain as Empire Racing Associates. Foul play for sure.

S.L. Green and Capital Play were the others. Are they still viable entities?

Anonymous said...

SLGreen may be looking for a bail out soon as the commercial real estate market continues to implode.

Forget them.

Capital Play is back in Australia laughing at the silliness of it all, and no doubt relishing is DEL NO's failure.

Anonymous said...

We don't need anyone to relish anything, just build a darn racino at Aqueduct for all the reasons repeated so many times on this blog! Capital Play was just the name of the group that was one of the underbidders. Mohegan Sun, Extel Development, Plainfield Asset Management are all still around. Maybe the racing guy and group's founder and point man O'Farrell went home, or maybe he didn't?

S.L, Green is indeed bottoming out as a REIT, so who knows what this project means to them now.

Hopefully Audrey Pheffer, Senator Addabbo and the Community Board 10 are in Albany making a case for a substitute VLT vendor if DelNorth takes a walk. Their lobby must be certain that if the proposed vendor doesn't sign and excute a MOU, that the state doen't just forget about Aqueduct and take it's gaming out the expressway, 8 miles to the east.