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Tuesday, August 03, 2010

Genting Gets It

WOO HOO, a fountain! Now that's what I'm talking about! Can't you imagine pulling up on the A train and seeing that?

Hey, look, isn't that the Big A paddock!? What are they suspending that chandelier from? Durkin's booth? Are those guys actually standing on top of the bar and singing? Are they Hanson? And why are those two women looking back warily at the man in the lower right corner? Has he been sent here to tell them, and us, something?

It was a walkover for Genting, and we're only waiting for the three stewards up in the booth in the state capitol to make it official. The governor had already agreed to go along submissively with whoever the Lottery chose; Senator Sampson wouldn't dare say a word; and Genting's offer, with its whopping $380 million upfront, and the scrutiny of it and the company by the Lottery would appear to conform to Speaker Sheldon Silver's conditions, unless he's changed his mind since he established the rules that eventually sunk AEG.

So it's time for the Big A - the only racetrack in New York City proper - to get its long awaited facelift. Seriously, I don't think I can take another winter in that place in the condition it's in now. And if slots are only an artificial means of propping up a dying sport and the fatally flawed business model that is racing in New York State; and if the gambling bubble in the Northeast is already well on its way to its eventual bursting; and if some of the unfortunate weak-willed amongst us will succumb to the temptations and disease of compulsive be it (he says coldly). The fact is that we're way too far gone to turn back now, and only when the frenzy is past, and the states and the racing industry are picking up the oversaturated pieces and wondering where to turn next, will we all realize the sheer folly of balancing budgets and basing the survival of an industry on an endeavor as utterly vapid and dehumanizing as slot machines. But until then....

Genting claims that it can turn on the spigot in six months after final approval. But even the Lottery, as ebullient as it was in its recommendation, seemed to have doubts about that.

Although Genting has provided a very detailed timeline, the six month start-up proposed may be overly ambitious due to any number of unanticipated issues which could arise during construction. Genting has the resources, experience, and management teams to overcome many of these, and has already announced a cooperative labor understanding. Nevertheless, even with highly experienced and seasoned prime contractors, issues could arise during construction which may cause delays – such as regulatory issues, SEQRA or even weather.
Nonetheless, Genting promises than just six months following the first round of 1600 machines will come the full complement of 4,525 VLTs, a 2,100-space parking garage, and a new pedestrian bridge to the Aqueduct subway station, and a final phase with completion of abatement activities and construction of a new porte cochere.

What's a porte cochere? Is that the fountain?


El Angelo said...

It's a fancy way for saying Portico, ie, a canopy for valet parking.

Figless said...

What, no pigeons and sea gulls?

I smell a PETA protest.

Anonymous said...

Someone wants to invest their money and all you have to offer is snide remarks.

Anonymous said...

So what will Genting do with Monticello now? Plow it down?

Bob F said...

Racinos suck. I've been to Pen, Pha, CT, Mnr, and Del. At most of these places you can tell that the only reason there's still a race track there is because the state made them keep it as a condition for their slots license. At the Pennsylvania racinos you can practically feel the contempt for racing in the air.
Delaware Park is far and away the best of the bunch. But as a regular there I can tell you that while it's a really nice track and a million times better on the racing side than most racinos, it's still pretty clear that racing takes a back seat to the casino.
If Penn National is out of the running for Aqueduct, be thankful for that. You should see what they did to their flagship track. I think it was intentionally designed to repel horseplayers. And if you went there and didn't know beforehand that there was a track out back, there's a good chance you would never know unless you accidentally stumbled across it.
Hope you guys get a Delaware type situation.

El Angelo said...

It's not like the racing product at Aqueduct is anything more than 7500 people in NY care about from December to March anyway.

Figless said...

Anyone want to take my "over" wager on that six month time frame for Phase One?

This is NY, not Malaysia.

But I am rooting for them.

steve in nc said...

My one evening at Penn National was delightful. I don't remember any Gill horses running during the 5 races i was there. If memory serves, the ATM was in the casino, but that was the only 5 minutes I spent inside. Outside, there were plenty of people and a friendly atmosphere. The antithesis of the A.

If slots can do that, bring 'em on. What's a decade between friends?

Anonymous said...

Sure wish more racing writers had your sense of humor and touch.

Great column; thanks!

But until the final brick is in place, I'm sticking to my original prediction (MADE 10 YEARS AGO!!!) that the AQ casino will not ever, never exist.

Anonymous said...

Genting is being hailed as the savior for Aqueduct, NYRA and New York Thoroughbred racing. Genting is a company from Malaysia with a mysterious past and strong connections to Stanley Ho. New Jersey spent a year investigating MGM's relationship with Ho's daughter Pansy and decided that connection is not acceptable.

Be wary of the Trojan Horse.

Bob F said...

@ Steve in NC,

Glad you enjoyed your time at the Penn. It's a matter of personal preference. But I can say that I've lived about 40 miles from that track all of my life. And I haven't talked to anyone, whether a hardcore horseplayer or an occasional $2 bettor, who likes what was done up there. The building itself is a huge part of the problem (no indoor seating whatsoever other than the restaurant and leased boxes, for example), but you can't really speak to that since you spent the entire time outside. Try standing out there in January (they run year-round). It's all subjective, but if that's what you like you can have it. I'll pass.