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Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Mythical Jackpot in Queens

You may have noticed the link to the mythical Aqueduct racino in a prior post. It's not a goof, but rather the vision of developer R. Donahue Peebles (presumably representing his own bid with MGM Mirage rather than the one with Delaware North).

Oh, so this is what it's gonna look like, eh?

Wow, pretty swanky. (Maybe photographed at Yonkers?)

OOO, look, is that race?

Oh man, talk about hitting the jackpot.

I know it's going to be classy because it has a porte-cochere, and I had to look that up to see what it is. It looks like the slots would occupy the second floor of the plant, "thoughtfully configured based on denominations," with "an intuitive flow," and "ample parking opportunities."

Hmmm, parking opportunities sounds like he's going to sell PSL's for the prime spots; or perhaps for a personal valet.

This is all no joke to the breeders and owners in the state however....nor to those of us who maintain a fondness for the Big A. It's time man, I've written ad nauseum how much I dig the place, but at this point it's starting to lose its charm. We've been staring at the same faded decor for a lot of years, and it's getting really tired. A complete renovation of the plan is long overdue, and I have to admit that I get excited looking at cheesy pictures like these, just considering the possibilities. Yeah, bring in the damn slots, and get the joint a-jumpin'....and that means night racing. If the thoroughbred horsemen aren't into that, then bring in the harness guys, they can use the inner track as a mile oval and even race on the turf.

Of course, there likely won't be a decision on the winning bidder until the Senate stalemate is settled, and score one here for Governor David Paterson. The embattled governor has taken all kinds of abuse of late, but he's the one laughing now after a State Supreme Court judge ruled that he does, indeed, have the authority to call the Senate into extraordinary session even if the Assembly isn't around. The judge ordered a joint session this morning, though the Republicans immediately appealed and put that on hold. Regardless, the triumph led the governor to boast: “With today’s Supreme Court decision, we confirm that at least two branches of government are working in Albany."

Yeah, take that. It was very brave indeed of Democrat and Republican senators alike to attack a governor with an approval rating of around 8. He was labeled as 'incompetent' for forcing them into special sessions that they claimed, wrongly at this point, were illegal; and vilified for threatening to withhold their pay. But the Democrats' only proposed solution was to pack up and go home. Instead, they're at least in town and have been negotiating power-sharing with the Republicans, though those talks seem to be going nowhere fast. The sticking point is no doubt the issue of leadership, with the Republicans holding fast to the 32-30 vote that empowered the so-called coalition (30 Republicans plus two shady Democrats), even though the count now stands at 31-31. Would Senator Skelos still insist that the vote is the vote if five Republicans switched sides tomorrow?

- The parent company of Monticello Raceway has $65 million in debt due at the end of July, and it doesn't have the money. The largest creditor is Plainfield Asset Management, which co-owns Jeff Gural's Vernon and Tioga Downs, and is said to want to own the property. It's kinda hard to see why.

Its daily take per slot is the lowest of New York's eight racinos — the second-lowest of all 42 casinos and racinos in the Northeast, according to the most recent Gaming Industry Observer's East Coast Slot Report. Attendance continues to plummet, down 11 percent from last year. [Record Online]
Whatsmore, they'd soon, at least in theory, have competition from Cappelli's racetrack and racino at the Concord and its 75% retention rate. Could be that what Plainfield is really interested in is a piece of that action.

- I guess I'm much too old to talk about a rock concert in terms of life-changing experience. But everything's relative, and for me to see Dinosaur Jr last week, a band which I've revered for two decades and which is now in prime form two albums into their reunion, in an intimate (but not too crowded) space with an absolutely pitch-perfect sound system (hardly a given; in fact, I'd say a relative rarity in my concert-going career), is the equivalent of a Bruce fan seeing their Boss while sitting in the 10th row at Radio City Music Hall. The downside is that, with the summer concert season still young, I'm not likely to see a better show. Except perhaps Dinosaur Jr., when they play a free show at Central Park in August. Don't expect to see me at Saratoga that day.


Anonymous said...

Interesting petition, as discussed by Bobby Smith, floating around the last week or so meant to coerce Albany into focus on the Aqueduct VLT issue.

When I first saw it, it was clearly a concise message from the NY Breeders. Now it has morphed into something that the NYRA has circulated via its e-mail lists per Bobby Smith's article, so who is it really from?

Have there been any new updates since the Aqueduct bidders provided more specifics to the state last Wednesday?

The_Knight_Sky said...

An enlightening piece.

However, I can't believe The Meadowlands is going to chew up their turf course with buggy racing. Things must be really uninteresting this meet.

And one question, why would the NYRA want to get involved by playing host to harness factions at Aqueduct? Now I understand the idea for a racino is to serve as a fun "night on the town" type of thing, but please.

Hosting standardbred racing would be a mistake not only for the overkill in the region with the Meadowlands and Yonkers meets, but
the credibility of the game still lacks among the bigger bettors.

Have you seen the Yonkers pool sizes? The game is a shell of its former self and it's apparent that the standardbreds are not going to pull their own only weight.

SaratogaSpa said...

Gotta give credit to Peebles for doing what the automobile makers used to do back in the heydey-sell sex. Only thing is, last time I walked through a racino virtually none of the people looked that skinny or sexy. They were alot larger-2 and 3 times the size of the people in the photos.

alan said...

>>Have there been any new updates since the Aqueduct bidders provided more specifics to the state last Wednesday?

Nope. In fact, has anyone seen any of the specifics?

Knight - I suppose that trotters at Aqueduct supported by slots money could be a death knell for the already-reeling-from-Yonkers Meadowlands. It's an idea which I read floating around a few years ago, and personally I dig it. Understand your concerns, but we can't ignore what's going on at Churchill on Friday nights....gotta get some kind of action going.

jk said...

There have been Friday nights at Yonkers for 50 years and Friday nights at the Big M (flats and trots)for 30. I do not think a Friday night card is the magic answer.

alan said...

>>I do not think a Friday night card is the magic answer.

Maybe not...but there was a time when Friday nights were a pretty big deal at both of those places. Not that long ago in the scheme of things.

Anonymous said...

I like how the MGM/Peebles bid became the Peebles/MGM bid after the determination in New Jersey that MGM was tied up with the organized criminal Stanley Ho's daughter Pansy Ho over in Macau and may have an interest in the Borgata. Suddenly, R. Donahue Peebles is the lead pony and it's his project, and MGM is just the VLT operator. Wonder if anyone in NY has been fooled?

onecalicocat said...

Philly Park casino uses the same kind of "classy" imagery. Young, hip successful people -- mainly women in evening wear -- enjoying a wondrous experience.
When I went there I saw a lot of senior citizens playing penny and nickel slots.
I think in all fairness they should show senior citizens in these ads -- walkers optional -- because that is who you see.
I like the Philly Park casino but you will be lucky to see anyone under 50 or, among the younger set that frequents the place, anyone with more than a couple of teeth.

Anonymous said...

Those pictures could have come out of an old Magna annual report.

El Angelo said...

Friday night harness racing was interesting when there was still a population under 50 years old that cared about harness racing, and, more importantly, when there was little to no competition for the gambling dollar. Sadly, I don't see Friday night racing flying in general in New York, and really not so much with harness racing.

alan said...

>>Sadly, I don't see Friday night racing flying in general in New York, and really not so much with harness racing.

OK, I guess you guys are right.

Gotta beat Friday afternoon racing though, don't it? :-)

Anonymous said...

Louisville is a college town, be interesting to see how attendence holds up now that the kids are home with mom and dad.

That concern aside, I think many are misconstruing the concept.

What they are trying to do at CD is to lure neophytes to the track using live entertainment as a lure, then hopefully hooking a few fish for the future while still generating a profit, thinking that can only arise in a "for profit" model.

They are diversifying their business in an otherwise empty plant to offset fixed costs while marketing their main product.

It would not matter if it were thoroughbreds, harness or greyhounds, if NYRA created an atmosphere with great entertainment at reasonable prices on a Friday or Saturday night, they would draw a decent crowd. There simply are not many outdoor venues in the NYC area to party, legally.

Then, if one in ten actually bet on the races, it becomes a win win as long as the ten buck cover charge pays the cost of the entertainment.

CD gets it, thats why they are profitable year after year.

Anonymous said...

Looks just like every Las Vegas racebook I've ever been in. LOL.

El Angelo said...

Anon 9:37, I respectfully disagree. The idea of Manhattanites or Brooklyners treking out to Nassau County or Ozone Park to party on a Friday or Saturday night is highly unlikely. There's just too much else out there that's better value and easier to get to.

alan said...

El Ang - I get your point, but aren't you basically then entirely putting the kibosh on the entire concept of a racino at either track drawing anybody other than people in the surrounding communities? Where are all the patrons at Yonkers coming from?

Anonymous said...

El Al, better value? Than Manhattan, the home of the ten dollar beer?

I am talking a ten buck cover charge, bring your own beer and food just like it is now. You pay for the entertainment and outdoor atmosphere. Why would that not draw, and why are you focused on Manhattan and Brooklyn. There are five million folks living in Queens, Bronx, and Nassau, all an easy ride.

You hire bands that actually have an existing following, so the folks are travelling to see that band in a new environment.

The first booking can be Dinosaur Jr., sure Alan will attend.

Anonymous said...

And for the record I am referring to the CD concept of night racing, not the proposed Peebles VLT parlor.

I am talking Belmont backyard, not Ozone Park. There is likely nothing that can be done for the Big A except VLTS.

El Angelo said...

If you're talking about the 50+ age bracket, then I suppose there's a shot that Belmont at night would draw some people, sure. My point was directed towards people under 40 years old, which is what racing ostensibly is trying to reach, and I just think it's highly unlikely to reach that demographic, if for no other reason than because it's a fricking hike.

Anonymous said...

Well we will never find out anyway since they will never try, we'll leave it at that.