Crain's New York reports that there are three leaders in the Aqueduct racino race.
Of the six bids, three have generated the most buzz thanks to their local connections and name recognition. Insiders say the leading contenders so far are bids by Manhattan’s largest landlord, SL Green; the Aqueduct Entertainment Group, which includes The Navegante Group and other New York area builders; and casino mogul Steven Wynn.Can't say I'm surprised that Delaware North isn't on that list. Can't imagine that the state would take their $100 million offer after they couldn't raise the $370 million. Besides, reports indicate that they're back to the slots-in-a-box offer which they were pressured to improve upon the first time around. Seems like they're just going through the motions. And what exactly was Penn National thinking with their token offer of $5 million? Maybe they just wanted to be in it in case all of the rest of them self-destruct? (Hardly an impossible prospect given the years of mishaps.)
But it has to be a big disappointment to developer R. Donahue Peebles if it's true that his bid with MGM Mirage has not made the cut. His reported bid of $150 million is twice that of Wynn's (at least before Wynn tried to raise his bid), and he has that cool website with all the pretty people too. I'd be a little disappointed as well, at least from the standpoint of having good stuff and idiotic quotes to blog about. The Crain's New York article says that the group claimed to have "received positive feedback from local representatives." So I'm not sure what's happening there.
If you missed it, this post on Capital Confidential has the little that is known about the financial aspects of the bids. The three companies reported to be leading have all basically offered $100 million up front and guaranteed (AEG threw in an extra $1 million), if, that is, Steve Wynn is allowed to increase his bid from $75 million, which he offered to do when making his presentation to the state last week.
SL Green/Hard Rock (along now with a company owned and controlled by Robert L. Johnson, the owner of Black Entertainment Television) provided some details of their plans in this press release. CEO Mark Holliday feels that the Hard Rock brand name gives it an edge.
..Holliday estimated the Hard Rock brand name will bring out more customers to Aqueduct to generate $4 billion in additional revenues – with 70% of that going to the state and racing interests, such as purses -- over the next 30 years compared to a non-brand name casino. [Bloodhorse]Wynn apparently has more grandiose plans.
Racinos are grandstands with slot machines that are awful. I'm talking about entertainment and a place that's fun -- not Yonkers." [Times Union]Hear that, harness guys? As far as Aqueduct Entertainment Group goes, the only specific I've seen about their proposal is that they'll have "Corona Italian ice and hotdog vendors like a New York City neighborhood, but not a six-star facility like Wynn proposes." Some cheap eats in case you have a bad night. [UPDATE: More details on the AEG plan here.]
AEG is said to have impressed the Queens Chamber of Commerce by guaranteeing local and minority jobs
AEG’s partners on its plans include the Rev. Floyd Flake’s Empowerment Development Corp. and Queens developer Levine Builders. While Mr. Wynn did not outline specific plans to use local vendors, he said he would be open to working with the community. Mr. Wynn acknowledged that he has made little effort to play Albany politics.So, it would seem that the race is on, and perhaps these contenders have truly separated themselves from the rest of the pack. Of course, we don't really know anything for sure; and on Monday, the Daily News editorialized that the process is shaping up as one of the worst closed-door deals of all time.
Meanwhile, SL Green, along with Hard Rock International, has divulged its plans to Community Board 10, which expressed its approval, said Marc Holliday, SL Green’s chief executive. [Crain's]
The secrecy is unacceptable. Opening New York City to legalized gambling would be a momentous step, one that must not be taken in the dark. The demand for openness is only heightened by the millions of dollars that will be at stake every year. [NY Daily News]A spokesperson for Governor Paterson told Crain's: "“Releasing specific information on the bids will impair the integrity of the evaluation process and hamper the state's ability to reach a timely decision based on a bidder’s first and most sincere offer." I'd be most curious to know exactly how it would impair the integrity of the process, considering that there hasn't much integrity in this entire affair since the Ad Hoc Committee conducted their transparent selection process so, so long ago.