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Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Final Chapter (?)

Judge Martin Glenn of the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of New York granted NYC OTB's request to terminate its Chapter 9 bankruptcy filing.

“OTB has ceased operations and has concluded all efforts to seek confirmation of [a reorganization plan].....The debtor argues that because no other party may propose a plan of debt adjustment in OTB’s case, continuation of a chapter 9 case serves no purpose. The court agrees.” [Daily Racing Form]
Well, that sounds pretty damn final, doesn't it?

Or is it?
The closure has also spawned talk, noted New York State Racing and Wagering Board chairman John Sabini, of everything from re-opening NYCOTB as a public entity to consolidation of other OTB corporations in the state. [Bloodhorse]
Come to think of it, haven't seen For Rent signs pop up on any of the parlors I've seen.

But, for now, the court ruled over the objections of Churchill Downs, and the DC 37 and Local 2021 unions representing OTB workers which claimed, as discussed in a recent post, that NYC OTB's payments to the racetracks were somehow "fraudulent" and subject for recall. I did get to read the text of the union's court filings. Unfortunately, and not surprisingly, it offered no real explanation nor rationale behind the vague suggestion that the product supplied to OTB somehow did not constitute fair value.

Look, as steve in nc pointed out, this union is representing working class types who could surely use a break. It's horrible and tragic that they are watching their pensions disappear before their eyes. Judge Glenn expressed sympathy for their plight too, noting more than 1,000 people have been left without health or pension benefits. However, I think that the idea that the monies paid for the product on which OTB based their business was somehow fraudulent to be perverse, especially considering the paltry rates paid out to them, and the way that OTB savaged the tracks' businesses. The judge rightly put that notion to rest.

- Yonkers Raceway is back in action after a holiday break, and business is down since OTB closed. Yonkers GM/VP Robert Galterio said the track’s total handle is presently down 10-15 percent. Based on some random handle figures I found from last year, my guess is that those percentages are on the low end. Galterio acknowledged the success that NYRA has had in attracting business from the shuttered parlors, and noted that “we really haven’t been able to do so at night." However, he expressed optimism about the future.
“NYRA has been able to secure time on a public access station and we are talking to them about the evening hours to see if we can broadcast then....We’re also going to start simulcasting to NYRA, and they have a pretty extensive ADW. If we can combine both of those things—the TV and the ADW—that should help.” []
Now, I've mentioned on several occasions here that NYRA was prohibited from accepting wagers on harness races. That was based on a conversation I'd had with Charlie Hayward. Some people believe that there is, in fact, no such law on the books. In any event though, Dan Silver of NYRA told me that they do indeed hope to offer wagering on Yonkers (as well as on other New York State harness tracks) on their NYRA Rewards platform soon.

That would be a big win for NYRA too. It's almost like found money; a totally new revenue stream, which would surely be enhanced should Yonkers races be televised on Channel 71 and/or streamed on the NYRA Rewards site itself. I for one would definitely check out some action from the Yonk under those conditions....especially once they "stretch the [short] stretch" by once again lengthening the races to a mile and a sixteenth.

Seems to me that NYRA and Yonkers could become fast friends, being that their racing does not compete directly against each other, at least in terms of time. Perhaps they could partner to build and run teletheaters. Once the Big A racino is up and running, and plush new (we can only hope) simulcast rooms are in place, Yonkers races could be featured there at night, when the thoroughbred menu is spare. Hell, Yonkers could conduct a summer meet there on the one mile inner track during those long weeks when the thoroughbreds are upstate. (Just fantasizing out loud here.) With the fate of the Meadowlands in the hands of the mercurial Jeff Gural, a lot of prestigious stakes races could be looking for a new home.


Figless said...

My sometimes (ok, well most times) unreliable memory seems to recall that NYS would guarantee the pensions as part of the deal when they took over NYCOTB?

Seem to remember some uproar about that?

Yes, no doubt it is sad when anyone loses out on benefits and pension, but the blame squarely lies with the union who, along with their politician buddies, single handedly killed the deal agreed to by all parties to keep NYCOTB afloat.

No one wanted this to end this way, even NYRA who somehow may end up better off that it did.

Once (if?) spring arrives I expect on track attendance to increase dramatically, suddenly those buses will be full of folks looking for a free day in the Belmont Park.

And once racing quality improves there will be more incentive for folks like me to actually use my new nyrarewards account.

Anonymous said...

So they say Z will be bred to Bernardini. Not that I know that much about breeding, but Bernardini was kind of a big diesel type who liked to make big wide moves. I would have thought they might want to put some speed into Z's offspring, like maybe Medaglia D'Oro or Discreet Cat. -jp

chiefdave said...

The Former OTB onn 48th between 5th & 6th Aves has a for rent sign.