The revelations about the reasons for the latest delays in the Aqueduct racino are no revelations on this site. We knew it all along. And when I say 'we,' I mean to include everyone, all of the sharp readers who have been commenting throughout on the subject on this site. So nice going you guys, you had it all along.
Our chief suspects are high on the list of reasons articulated to Tom Precious by Delaware North president William Bissett; chief amongst them, the ability of the company to come up with the $370 million upfront fee which no doubt won them the deal in the first place.
Bissett confirmed the lending freeze in the financial markets has caused the company to “restructure’’ its financing package, including seeking new lenders. [Bloodhorse]In addition, as we speculated, Delaware North is holding out for "market protection" with respect to the inevitable Belmont racino in the form of higher retention rates. And the company cited a lack of finalization of the $250 million bond issue to build the place (a contention that the state disputes).
If the two defeated bidders are still hanging around and paying attention, they must be either furious or delirious with laughter. Who knows if, given the current environment, they'd even be interested in re-entering the picture....or able to if they were? But surely, any indication that the state is renegotiating the terms of a deal which were ostensibly determined by virtue of a fair, competitive bidding process would raise their ire and have them exploring legal options if they were so inclined.
As this reader points out, there was supposedly an extensive review of each of the three bidders' financing prior to the announcement in October, prompted in large part by the financial crisis already well under way at the time. "I find it hard to believe that all of these analysts fumbled on the DelNorth financing commitment?" But maybe it was simply the case that the lure of the upfront jackpot made the various people involved see what they wanted to see, and to conveniently overlook what seemed plainly obvious to those of us who had no access whatsoever to any information, as shielded from the public as the entire process was.
When NYRA emerged from bankruptcy last September, Chairman C. Steven Duncker told the press conference call that, given the $30 million NYRA received for operations, he did not see a drop dead point on the VLT's at this point - and that they can go out 24 months. But it's been five months since then, and a Del North representative recently told the local Queens Community Board that they would need 14 months once documents are signed with the state and architectural work is completed. We've seen far longer periods than the five months that the above math indicates is remaining in that window fly by like a dream. So it's hardly unreasonable to wonder if we will once again reach the point when NYRA is on the brink, and coming back to the state and the taxpayers for help.