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Sunday, December 13, 2009

No Problem Mon

There is quite an interesting, if not possibly revelatory, assertion by Charlie Hayward in the story by Paul Post in The Saratogian (and actually originally in the Thoroughbred Times). While conceding that NYRA will run out of cash by the time racing shifts to Saratoga next summer, Hayward claims that NYRA is entitled to a share of the up front payment by the eventual winner of the Big A racino sweepstakes. "I don’t believe it’s a crisis," he said of the continuing delay. I've not heard that before.

That would lessen some of the drama surrounding the fiasco, because, certainly, the selection will be made in time for the payment to be made by June or July. Right? Huh? I mean, for sure, right? In fact, the money is included in the deficit reduction plan for the budget year which ends on March 31. [Senator Joseph Addabbo, the creep whose early 'no' vote help send the gay marriage bill down to its ignominious defeat, expressed doubt about the timing:

Once an operator is selected, it will take 60 days to work out a memorandum of understanding and another 30 days to transfer cash to the state, Addabbo said. “We risk not realizing the $200 million this fiscal year if a decision isn’t made soon,” he said. [Thoroughbred Times]
But where Hayward's optimism starts to fray is here:
A set amount hasn’t been determined and is subject to negotiation.
Good luck with that. You probably recall past standoffs between NYRA and the state when the former was on the brink. I imagine that, as then, NYRA would be presented with conditions at which it would balk, perhaps including another look at those benchmarks that a reader mentioned the other day.

Having said that though, the $30 million that NYRA got when it emerged from bankruptcy in September 2008 will have lasted 20+ months by summertime, so it shouldn't take too much cash to get it through to the time that slots go live. Assuming of course....

- The upstate Times Herald-Record reports that not only is the construction of Louis Cappelli's Concord project stalled, but his accounts payable department is too.
Some 19 contractors are owed $18.3 million for steel, architectural plans, engineering, environmental studies and demolition work for Cappelli's Entertainment City project, according to public records....."We have continually sent invoices and they are just not interested in paying.." [Recordonline.com]
As you may recall, Cappelli was relentless in his determination to press on despite the financial crisis. But it proved to be too much, and a brain aneurysm that Cappelli suffered in July certainly didn't help.

Interesting note in the abovelinkedto article about Cappelli claiming to be negotiating with Penn National....to join him as a full partner. That company is of course one of the Big A bidders, and one which, for several reasons, makes sense to me. (Though not to Representative Audrey Pheffer, who finds their plans "a little too boxy, unimaginative and not too exciting.” [Queens Chronicle]) A deal with Cappelli might not be a bad consolation should they not get Aqueduct. They're certainly in position to negotiate favorable terms, and remember that Cappelli won a 75% cut of VLT revenues at the facility.

- I linked to an article in the Queens Chronicle a few weeks ago which contained a quote attributed to NYRA's marketing director Dan Silver for which I called him out for being insensitive to the vendors at the Big A Flea Market. He wrote to inform me that he was "heavily misquoted," and that he would never be that much of an asshole. And it's true, I've met and dealt with him, and he's a nice guy who's done a fantastic job since he took over. Should have checked with him first.

13 Comments:

Anonymous said...

You only need to see the backside conditions at Hollywood Casino at Penn National to understand clearly what the impact of a PNG presence in NY would be. It's anything but a win for NY racing.

Anonymous said...

The Day at the Races

BY Jerry Bossert
DAILY NEWS SPORTS WRITER

Monday, December 14th 2009, 4:00 AM
Related News

Racing needs a Christmas miracle.

With the holiday break upon us, it is time for Albany to come through by naming an operator for the long-stalled video lottery terminal (slot machines) racino at Aqueduct. The racino is expected to generate a million dollars a day for New York State, and bring in desperate money needed to help sustain horse racing, while fixing the aging facilities at Aqueduct, Belmont and Saratoga.

Legislation was passed in 2001 allowing the 4,500 VLT Racino to be built at Aqueduct, but a myriad of problems caused delays early on, including the New York Racing Association almost being indicted and former Gov. Spitzer getting caught as "Client #9" forcing his resignation.

But lately there has been no excuse, just ineptness. Every day we read or hear about the state's growing deficit, yet Albany has done nothing to get the racino started at Aqueduct. Gov. Paterson, along with Senate Conference Leader John Sampson and Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, have to agree on the same operator to get the racino started - that alone may require another miracle - but it has to be done now.

With New York City Off Track Betting in bankruptcy and the NYRA running low on cash, action needs to be taken to save all the jobs involved in racing from the track to the breeding farms throughout the state.........

Read more: http://www.nydailynews.com/sports/more_sports/2009/12/14/2009-12-14_untitled__races14s.html#ixzz0ZfF47KuX

Anonymous said...

There is a clause in the Memorandum of Understanding issued to each bidder for Aqueduct that the winning bidder pay the operating budget shortfall of NYRA beginning April 1, 2010.

NYRA will be fine.

Anonymous said...

Anon 7:18 - Which Memorandum of Understanding is that, the one which disappeared from the governor's website months ago and whose terms have been revised and ignored since then?

jk said...

http://tinyurl.com/ye8zoxh

OTB bets on Albany
By Erik Engquist and Daniel Massey


New York City Off-Track Betting inadvertently delivered a mixed message in announcing a bankruptcy filing this month. Its press release said OTB would not ask to reduce its payments to the city and state, but agency officials indicated otherwise during a conference call with reporters.

There's an explanation for the discrepancy, insiders say: OTB officials originally planned to hold the city and state harmless but later changed their minds. Their new position should strengthen their negotiating hand with state lawmakers, who must pass a bill to enable OTB's proposed restructuring. If legislators don't, the agency would shut down in the spring, leaving taxpayers with a $600 million obligation to OTB employees' health care and pension funds. The city and state disagree on which one is stuck with the bill.

Anonymous said...

I just checked the Governor's website and see that the MOU is no longer listed. I did look at it earlier this year and do remember the NYRA clause for operating shortfall payments by the winning bidder. I wonder if this is still the case now that the decision has been delayed and the MOU is no longer available for review?

This whole Aqueduct biding process has been a total joke. Surely this is a good place for the Fed's to look at now that they are finished with Bruno. In a way it is a logical extension for the Feds because the two counts on which Bruno was found guilty were directly connected to Abbruzzese. In addition, Alan in an earlier blog picked up the possible connection to Friends of New York Racing and Empire Racing's subsequent bid for the NYRA franchise.

I am sure the Fed's will find a hornets nest of corruption in this whole process from the beginning in 2006.

Anonymous said...

OTB is also such a mess. I hope a solution can be worked out where NYRA and the OTB's are finally merged into a coherent dynamic organization which will underpin and expand New York's leadership position in our sport.

Slots at Aqueduct are needed but is no substitute for a well structured racing dynamic organization in New York.

Anonymous said...

Now the pieces of the puzzle start to make sense. See Liz Benjamin's blog piece today describing the efforts to finally rid Malcolm Smith of his hold on the "Senate President" title.
http://www.nydailynews.com/blogs/dailypolitics/2009/12/the-purge-begins.html
Sharp readers will remember that the vlt legislation requires three way sign off, including the "Senate President". When that was drafted that meant the same thing as Majority Leader, but since this summer's purge Smith was left with that title to save face while John Sampson became the real power as Majority Leader. At the time it was decided that Malcolm would relinquish the "President" job in December (that's now) However so long as he holds on to the title and still holds out on Aqueduct for his sweetheart pals at AEG, the Governor and Speaker can't wrap things up! Meanwhile racing and the State suffer.
Liz Benjamin does not note the Aqueduct angle in her piece but does say that Malcolm's days with the title are numbered. So too are AEG's I guess. Time to put a fork in Smith and, with him, a fork in AEG. note: I am sure the regular AEG "anonymous" commentator (aka compensated flak) on this board will try desperately to spin us towards a different conclusion. Good Luck with that.

Anonymous said...

Interesting to ponder the Bruno/NYRA franchise angle, but the facts just don't support the allegations. If Bruno sought to tip the bidding to Empire Racing, he failed. The Ad Hoc Committee narrowly favored Excelsior Racing.

According to an article published by Bennett Liebman on his Albany Law School web site, all the legislative representatives voted for Excelsior over Empire. According to Mr. Liebman's article, 'On the vote on the “overall bid proposal” which constituted 50% of the total score, all of Speaker Silver’s appointees and all of Majority Leader Bruno’s appointees voted for Excelsior. Governor Pataki’s appointees split with two appointees, Bernadette Castro and Patrick Barrett voting for Empire and Fred Newman voting for Excelsior.'

alan said...

Anon 5:26 - That is an excellent point about Sampson and Smith...and you will be proven to be most prescient should the decision be announced shortly after (if?) Smith is deposed as president.

Anon 10:00 - Agreed....I did mention in a recent post that it would be ironic if the jury considered attempts by Abbruzzese to influence Bruno on the franchise in reaching their verdict since he didn't really seem to be involved or have much influence over the process at that point.

Anon 7:32 - Understood re: backside conditions at Penn Nat, and that's certainly a black mark against the company from an ethical and moral standpoint (as is some of their reported dealings with unions). But remember that NYRA is still responsible for the backstretch no matter who gets the racino. We just need a company which will get the money flowing, plentifully and fast. I think all of the bidders have a black mark or two of some kind associated with it.

Anonymous said...

Shinnecocs got federal recognition today, planning to open a casino in Hamptons, on LI (belmont?) and/or the Catskills per radio report.

Anonymous said...

Concerned NY'ers

www.bloodhorse.com/horse-racing/articles/54438/could-tribal-casino-open-near-nyra-tracks

15 Dec '09.
The federal government has given preliminary recognition to a Long Island Indian tribe, setting in motion development of a possible casino close to the New York Racing Association’s two downstate tracks.

and recently,
http://dmckee.lvablog.com/?p=1403

…Kerzner (Mohegan's partner), is now pondering moving into their tribal gambling in Massachusetts…lol

having made $67 million more than the Mohegans over the last nine years, partly by dint of some legal parlance that allows them to reclassify a management contract as a “consulting” one … whereupon Kerzner is reimbursed on the basis of gross earnings, not net ones.

xxxxxx

but more immediate, is a NY Aqueduct bidding racing concern, across the board, being the loose as a goose, Florida freelance Indians tribe, intertwined with one of our real estate pillars, SL Green.

Alan, you are the only recognized NY thoroughbred blogger, that is allowed immediately through to, halls of NYRA power, being SL Green's choice for Aqueduct bid, as your blogs have always tendered towards them over past, however you phase them - even last week, words to the effect, I just spoke to NYRA.

Impressive, but anyone else, very difficult.

You are certainly appreciated for your continuous informative, racing info and perhaps not fair to inquire, but concerning Aqueduct bids, are you subsidized with NYRA or do/has it's affiliates assist you financially .

U don't have to answer.

Glimmerglass said...

With the NYT's article stating "Patterson had supported the tribe’s bid and urged the Obama administration to recognize it" I guess it all makes sense as to why there has been a lot of dragging of feet with moving the Aqueduct project along.

Maybe some horse trading will go on with the Tribe hooking up with Belmont or Aqueduct in some facility agreement - after the State tosses in some added bonus elements.

I for one am tired of yet another tribe getting tossed a bone with a casino. Having seen what the Oneidas have done there is little long term benefit associated with this Federal Recognition except for a very small handful of connected people and about five dozen indian families.