RSS Feed for this Blog

Monday, September 28, 2009

Two Have Inside Track

Tom Precious was the first to report, on, 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.

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]
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.

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.

Mr. Paterson is also likely to make more national television appearances in the days and weeks ahead. [NY Times]
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.


Anonymous said...


Thanks for the Aqueduct update.

Based on current NY State and Federal politics on the off reservation Indian debate, I find it dificult to believe that the governor would recommend SL Green in partnerhship with the Seminole Tribe from Florida owners of the "Hard rock" brand. Too many in-state Tribes would be left out if the Seminoles were in the deal.

Wynn's existing plan presents a lot of unknows including when it will actually be generating cash for all the beneficiaries. A couple of things come to mind. One is that he has an alternative plan, a design that fits within the bounds of the existing permitting. If he gets the "just trust me" nod that he asked for when with Excelsior Racing, he'll just promise tha state a project that will be completed faster within the existing structure. Alternatively, he applies for his new permits for the European castle that he has put forth and he can't get it. By the time this is rejected, the state realizes that Belmont is the better location for a full casino, then the laws are changed for full gaming, the project moves to Belmont Park on the tract of land designated in the long range plan, and the Big A is left out in the cold. Lots of folks in Albany and the existing racing operator like this scenario.

Did the Lottery Commission Deputy Director Bill Murray go on record as saying the Aqueduct Entertainment Group bid disqualified? Or, was it someone from the Governor's office or David Paterson himself that said this group was out of the running? Other than the Precious article refering to "sources," there doesn't really seem to be any substance behind the rumor.

This decision and process has been a wild ride, so surprises under the shroud of an Albany mystery are still to come.

Anonymous said...

Here's todays news from the NY Post on the subject.

This piece uses the words "Paterson is said to favor...." and goes on to mention BET founder Robert Johnson as a part of the Hard Rock bidding team.
I recall the recent picture in the press of Governor Paterson at BET executive Rhonda Cowan's late night birthday party. Around the same time this past summer, didn't his office hire a gal associated with BET during the hiring freeze that made some eyes in Albany roll?

Throughout this whole process, the NY Post has only ever shed positive light on Steve Wynn, doing several stories on his gaming history and his flamboyant plans for Aqueduct, so no surprise if Wynn is the newspaper's favorite.

Anonymous said...

I can't believe for a millisecond that any of this is about Aqueduct.
Just wait till the announcement is made, then all the excuses come about delays, this and that...and bam, it ends up with Wynn and Belmont. It was never about Queens and helping that community; it was always about the holy grail, 15 miles up the Belt Parkway. NY politics at its seedy, most dark and conniving best. Watch who ends up in bed with the "enemy." Who cares if Obama told Paterson not to run again? If it smells like you know what, it is. Period.

Anonymous said...

actually less than 10 miles up the Parkway but who's counting! Queens had better speak fast and loudley or they will be without.