Tom Precious was the first to report, on Bloodhorse.com, that the Aqueduct bidding has tightened, and that a final decision could "come as early as the week of Sept. 28." This came a day after Paul Post suggested in a piece on the Thoroughbred Times site that the process was still stagnant. The difference in the reporting is due to the fact that Post was taking his inference from the fact that Paterson did not mention the issue during a public meeting on Sept 24. However, Paterson did apparently discuss the matter during a closed door meeting held later in the day.
So, the two main points here are a) Tom Precious, as the full-time Albany correspondent for The Buffalo News, has inside sources that racing guys like Post and Hegarty don't; and b) here's a reminder of the secretive process; we still don't really know what the hell is happening nor, why.
Jim Odato of the Albany Times-Union is another political reporter with good sources, and he confirmed Precious' reporting in a column on Monday.
As for the more immediate question of which company will win the right to build and operate the Aqueduct racino, the smart money is on SL Green, which has the operators of the Hard Rock Casino as part of their team, and Steve Wynn.Precious had reported that Delaware North was also amongst the companies acceptable to the governor, but that it faces "an uphill challenge" due to its failure to come up with the cash the last time around. But while I was right about that (if it's indeed the case), Aqueduct Entertainment Group, my morning line favorite, is out based on these reports; it was reported to have been the subject of disapproval by state lottery officials. Of course, what exactly the problem may have been is amongst the many things we don't know.
Among the six bidding teams, those two outfits have reportedly risen high in the estimation of the Paterson administration. The governor may announce a decision as soon as this week. [Albany Times Union]
I have to think then that SL Green is the likely winner. Wynn has those problems with the unions, and wouldn't have machines up and running until 2011 (unless those plans have changed in private). And besides, I still, for some reason, have enough faith left in the human race as to think that even Albany politicians wouldn't be lured by the preposterous grandiosity of his construction plans. It sure would be a hoot, if nothing else.
As far as the timetable for an announcement, I think that there actually is an excellent chance that it will happen within the next week, or two. And that's because, on the heels of his appearance on Meet the Press (in which he artfully dodged around every jab about the message from the White House that David Gregory threw, and managed, assertively speaking over the host at times, to effectively contrast his balanced budget with the woes of other states), it is now in Paterson's interest to do so.
The interview was the beginning of what Mr. Paterson’s advisers said would be a week of high visibility. He is scheduled to make a series of official appearances in the coming days, including delivering the keynote address at the fall meeting of the New York State Democratic Committee in Buffalo on Wednesday. Later in the week, he will travel to California for a global climate summit with Arnold Schwarzenegger and other governors.Actually sounds like quite a busy week for the governor, so he may not have the time. But an appearance in Queens, with community leaders and (brave) local politicians, to make the Aqueduct announcement with its attendant local jobs and economic benefits (no mention of problem gambling here) is certainly the kind of event that his advisers have in mind.
Mr. Paterson is also likely to make more national television appearances in the days and weeks ahead. [NY Times]