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Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Missing the Train (or the Bus)

Some readers had a hard time believing NYRA's claim, as reported in the NY Times, that it would "lose" more than $5 million due to the termination of the Long Island Railroad service to Belmont. I'm told by a spokesperson for NYRA that the figure refers to business, not revenue. The math is simple: NYRA anticipates that it will lose five percent of its on-track attendance; based on last spring's total meet attendance of 384,000, that comes to around 20,000. Multiply that by the per capita of $260, and you get $5.2 million of handle. Presumably, some of that will be bet off-track, hopefully for NYRA through its own wagering platform rather than OTB so that it retains the same percentages...but in any case, that's how they came up with the number.

Of course, there will be LIRR service on Belmont day, but an anonymous reader notes: Unless there is a freak tstorm [for the Preakness], belmont will be half empty on the first saturday in june. I certainly would have to agree with the reader's assessment of the chances of their being a Triple Crown possibility. Perhaps the presence of Rachel Alexandra will help, but, unfortunately, she's being pointed for the Acorn rather than the Test of Champions.

- Governor Paterson announced some new rules which will facilitate union organization of employees at certain worksites....including Belmont Park.

The directive, which was signed on April 24 and issued on Friday, will require the operators of projects that receive assistance like loans, tax breaks or property leases from state agencies or public authorities to obtain “labor peace” agreements with unions seeking to organize their workers. [NY Times]
I suppose that NYRA qualifies under all three of those conditions of having received loans, tax breaks, and property leases, and that the order would apply to the other tracks as well.

The governor is still scraping bottom in the latest poll from Marist, which shows him getting trounced in matchups with Andrew Cuomo and the seedy ex-mayor of NYC whose name I can't even bring myself to type so early in the morning. It even shows him trailing Rick Lazio, and that has to be really depressing. But there are reports this morning that the governor has finally persuaded two holdout Democratic Senators to support his latest MTA bailout plan (which I tend to doubt would restore Belmont service); and yesterday he announced a proposal for a spending cap on the state budget as he attempts to rehabilitate his image. He has a long ways to go.

Friday is the deadline for new and/or revised bids for the racino at Aqueduct. Delaware North is expected to rebid for the project. In what was labeled a "candid" conversation with William Bissett - if it were really so, the interviewer may have asked him about the accusations in the SL Green lawsuit - Del North's president says:
"When you go to Aqueduct, and you walk through the facility, the people who work there can tell you the names of everyone sitting in those chairs. And if you walk by an empty chair, unfortunately, that player has either died or missed the bus. It's that critical. [Standardbred Canada]
I'd like to know when the last time Bissett was at the Big A on a racing day! If it was sometime during the last month of the meeting and he ran across my empty seat, he can be assured that I was neither dead nor late for the bus. Just bored.


Anonymous said...


Did the NYRA put last year's Belmont attendance in the 384,000? If so, it should be backed out because the MTA service WILL be running that day, so the projected business lost will be less. Hard to belive that they used $260 as a per individual betting amount. 20,000 less on track? When you go by the numbers that MTA discusses, less than 100 riders per day to Belmont, how can you ever get to 20,000?

Real fuzzy math.

Anonymous said...

With the deadline approaching, not a peep lately from bidders for Aqueduct racino, other than Bissett's interview? The capital markets are still "locked down," especially for new gaming projects, so we'll see. My guess is the state wants in the worst way to just award the deal to DelNorth again as they passed muster with NYRA, but with the pending S.L. Green litigation and the investigation into lobbyist Patricia Lynch and the contracts she has obtained for her clients in Albany, DelNorth may be the "hot potato."

Hard to handicap this go round!

jk said...

If the number is $5 million in handle, than there is appox. $1 million in takeout generated, more than enough to pay of the cost of train service.

The MTA bailout plan will generate $1.8 billion in revenue, again more than enough to pay for train service.

If service is not resotred, it is not because of finances, it is because someone does not want it to happen.

Alan Mann said...

jk - The fact that they were so quick to cut the service even before a final collapse of the bailout bill in Albany; plus the fact that the ridership is SO paltry - 30 to 35 during the week!! - that I suspect it won't be restored even if a bill finally passes. Hope I'm wrong, but I just don't see it.

Also, I would think that we'll see more people on that shuttle bus once the weather warms up and dries out. It's been raining for practically the entire meet so far!!

jk said...

They should keep the service on weekends, no reason not to.

Use the savings from cutting weekday service to maintain weekend service.

I agree, the quick cancellation of the service does not bode well. The money is there to pay for the serivce but that is no guarantee.

El Angelo said...

If they're not including Belmont Stakes Day, 20,000 divided by 65 means that they estimate that 307 people take that train every day. That's just patently false.

If they are including Belmont Stakes day, then they're just making up number out of thin air to get a rise out of people. I agree with the other commenters that if they really stood to lose that much money, they would have worked something out with the MTA to pay the damn $110k. Just another reason why nobody trusts NYRA.

That said Alan, good job calling them up and asking how they pulled that number out of their a**.

Anonymous said...

The buses probably cost more than the 110k.

But then again, no one nowhere has any faith in MTA finance numbers either, so we are comparing peanuts to elephants.