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Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Franchise Bid a Sprint to the Finish

- J Patrick Bennett, the Chairman of the Ad Hoc Committee on the Future of Racing in New York, wasn't kidding when he said that he wanted to get the bidding process done and over with. It's an all-out sprint to the wire for prospective bidders, and there's no time for them to be Lost in the Fog regarding the complex Request for Proposals (RFP) that were issued yesterday. The proposals are due by August 15, and the bidders have to identify themselves as such by June 30. That deadline is unfortunate timing particularly for NYRA, who will be running the Saratoga meeting at that time. Bidders will have to consider no less than six different scenarios: There are three hypothetical circumstances offered regarding changes in NY racing law, ranging from none, to a complete consolidation of the regional OTBs into a single entity including representatives of all the state tracks, including harness. Then, bidders are asked to consider each of those with and without slots at Belmont Park.

Bids will be judged on the following criteria.

The committee will grade each bid based on six components, with the development plan accounting for 50% of their vote. The other points are: integrity, 20%; financial viability, 10%; approach and managerial theory, 10%; experience and qualification, 5%; and lease payment valuation, 5%. [Thoroughbred Times]
The 'development plan' which counts for 50% encompasses two key questions:
1. How do you plan to conduct racing?

2. What are your plans for track facilities? [Saratogian]
I suppose that these questions include matters such as:

How do you plan to maintain New York's position as the nation's top racing venue?

What are your plans for Saratoga?

What experience in and/or knowledge of conducting successful horse racing meetings do you have?

How can you demonstrate your commitment to the sport of racing, as opposed to running slots parlors?

But I would have preferred to have seen them specifically articulated.

Most perplexing is that the committee will spend all of one month evaluating the bids; their decision is due by September 15.

That seems like an extremely small window in which to make such a crucial decision; Empire Racing Associates CEO Jeff Perlee called it a "bit on the aggressive side."[Louisville Business Journal] The big rush is even more mystifying when you consider that the committee's decision will have to be approved by the legislature and the governor, and with the former currently concluding their session, that won't even begin to happen until they reconvene next year. Given the way politics work in Albany, the final confirmation is expected to take as long as a year. So what the hell is the rush? One month to give proper consideration to what could be six different proposals each from as many bidders that emerge? And with 4500 slots due at Aqueduct, and most likely at Belmont as well, that number could be significant. There are few restrictions on who can bid.
Committee Executive Director Robert Williams said there are no restrictions on the type or number of firms that may submit bids. Any properly incorporated stock corporation, public or private, may seek the contract. It's possible, for example, that large gaming operators, including the Oneida Indians, who previously bid on a state Lottery contract, could join the process.

'We'll have to really be focused,' said Saratoga Springs Mayor Valerie Keehn, a committee member. 'I'll have to clear my calendar.'
[Albany Times Union]
I guess we won't be seeing the good Mayor out at the races much.


Anonymous said...

Timing appears structured to make it impossible for NYRA. They are the least likely to have the resources to meet a tight deadline. Where do they get the funds to hire professionals to prepare the proposal. Doubt very much they have such people in house to do this typr of work. Will never be able to compete with the new bidders, especially when they are all upstate. Politics is all it is but we all know that.

Say goodbye to NYRA, thier only hope is if the courts rule they actually do own the land.

John said...

RFPs are something I have some experience with(I work in government). I would think the potential bidders have very good idea how the RFP is structured and have been working on their proposals for a while now(the vendor community is a small world). They won't feel that rushed. As for the state reviewing the proposals, the proposals will be farmed out internally and analyzed more quickly than you might think.

Michael said...

I agree with John. Working in Government Contracting and seeing RFPs a lot, this isn't structured to ham-string NYRA -- every RFP I've ever seen is quick turn around, and can seem more complex to those who don't deal with them regularly.

This looks to be SOP.