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Saturday, May 26, 2007

Comments on Comments

- I was thinking out loud about just where this idea to split the New York franchise between Saratoga and downstate came from if not from the governor's office. Late Scratch asked:

Why exclude NYRA from your list of suspects? They really never wanted anything to do with slots (or OTB or simulcasting) from the beginning. This unlikely scenario plays right into their supposed strengths - a not-for-profit who can put on a boutique meet front-loaded with graded stakes.
I think that makes a lot of sense; whats more, since NYRA is, presumably, the only bidder in direct contact with the governor's office, it's conceivable that it's an idea that was brought up during the negotiations. One anonymous commenter noted that it must have originated from a politician- it's a lousy idea. While I wholeheartedly agree with that statement in principle, if this one came from a politician, I think it was someone other than Spitzer. I don't really think that Governor "What's the difference if there are horses running or not?" has considered anything other than the potential for revenue, and that he neither knows nor cares enough about the industry and the issues to even have been able to conceive of such a thing. I wonder if he could even name the bidders without referring to his notes.

And another anonymous poster pointed out that the Port Authority may take precedence over any private development of a shuttered Aqueduct site. This whole scheme has been a disguised eminent domain issue from day one. I would imagine that Spitzer would fight any sale that doesn't bring the most money possible; and considering that the fencing that for many months closed off so much of the Big A parking lot was nothing more than a big 'fuck you' encircling a completely empty space, it's hard to see what justification they would have for wanting the whole property. However, the Port Authority has always been at the center of Big A rumors in the past, so I suppose we shouldn't expect anything different now.

I also liked the irony in Late Scratch's comment, regarding the lack of people at Belmont, that maybe if we held a Stanley Cup final game there..... I know they are totally different situations, but still, with all the talk last week about how hockey was below even racing on the sports totem pole, even a typically poorly-attended and moribund Islanders home game (as in, any game not against the Rangers) can outdraw several days worth of crowds at the track.

- Andrew Lakeman has spinal cord damage, and the doctors would not comment as to what the implications are. [Charles] Hayward said Lakeman, 32, had “severe spine trauma, the implications of which is why they’re not making any prognosis.” [NY Times]


Anonymous said... This article in yesterday's Saratogian lends credence to the NYRA idea. Why would the guy leave?

Bank Check

Anonymous said...

Alan, Green Mtn Punter checking in as my nom de blog is still blocked. Twas I who commented that this idea of splitting up the 3 tracks must have come from a pol. NYRA has been around too long not to realize that potential competition genereated by more than one NY franchisee could harm even the Spa meet. Again, if the pols can only focus on the direct taxes generated by on and off track pari-mutuels, then they are totally missing the boat on racing's overall impact on the NY State economy. As for the franchise bidders, Excelsior's addition of Steve Wynn is still a big plus for me given Wynn's success in the entertainment industry. I have even become more interested in Capital Play because at least they emphasize drawing new racing fans to the track in addition to luring back those who have stopped going. The zero or reduced pari-mutuel tax takeout for on track wagers is another idea which needs promotion. We need more fans at the track!

Anonymous said...

Considering who benefits from the franchise split, I would assume the idea originated with NYRA. Their survival is questionable, this proposal would seem to provide an ability to split the baby several ways - one of which would permit their continued existence. NYRA’s ownership of the idea is supported by Saratoga Mayor Valerie Keehn was quoted in May 23, 2007 Saratogian that Spitzer Special Counsel Richard Rifkin said the concept did not originate in the Governor’s office.

Accepting Mr. Rifkin at face value, its somewhat shocking how the Spitzer administration signed on without consultation with state and local legislative leaders. Everyone, including the Spitzer people, seem to forget the franchise is awarded through the legislative process, not unilaterally by the Governor. Even if the Governor determined to make an announcement by Memorial Day on the franchise, Joe Bruno and Sheldon Silver will have tremendous input. They have illustrated an inability to be “steamrolled” - remember the State Comptroller fiasco?

Finally, I agree with Green Mtn Punter regarding using reduced pari-mutuel tax takeout for promotion. Don’t forget that idea originated with the initial Excelsior proposal. Please read the various proposals - I think they are still available on the New York Racing Board’s web site. Capital Play may want to bring new fans to racing, unfortunately there is little in their proposal about what they’d do with the franchise, the facilities, etc. The bulk of their proposal is spent on the conditions of each race for the whole year. Anyone familiar with how a racing secretary creates cards will find that either amusing or scary.