Friday, October 10, 2008

Tribe In The Media: NY Governor Likely To Reject Tribe's Bid To Run Slot Parlor At Aqueduct Racetrack

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This installment of The Tribe In The Media is an article in The Saratogian saying it is likely that New York will not select the Mohegan Tribe to run a proposed VLT slot parlor at Aqueduct Racetrack.

Paterson said to pick Aqueduct operator
By Paul Post
The Saratogian
October 10, 2008

Governor David Paterson has reportedly chosen Delaware North Companies and its partner - Saratoga Harness Racing Inc., which owns Saratoga Gaming & Raceway - to run Aqueduct's proposed racino.

Paterson's office would not confirm the choice, but a spokesperson for Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver said, "We accept the governor's selection."

Delaware North/Saratoga Harness is one of three entities that bid for the contract to run a 4,500-machine video lottery terminal facility at Aqueduct. Construction is expected to take 15 to 18 months, meaning it would likely start up in early or mid-2010 - generating an estimated $450 million per year that would boost purses at each of the state's three main thoroughbred tracks including Saratoga Race Course.

"We are waiting like everyone else," Delaware North spokesperson Wendy Watkins said, with regard to a formal announcement by Paterson.

Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos, R-Rockville Center, and the competing bidders were quick to denounce the governor's choice.

"It appears that Governor Paterson is supporting a bid that only includes plans for a racino and does not include any proposal to generate needed economic development," Skelos said. "It appears that in an effort to close the budget deficit, Governor Paterson has made a choice that may not be in the best long-term interests of the state or for the communities that surround Aqueduct. It is our belief that unless we made Aqueduct a true destination venue, this project will not generate the largest possible benefit."

However, Skelos hasn't indicated which firm he favors, spokesman Mark Hansen said.

Delaware North/Saratoga Harness offered the state largest up-front payment -- $370 million - versus by $250 million by SL Green/Hard Rock Entertainment and $100 million from Capital Play/Mohegan Sun. Both of the latter proposals, however, included plans for large-scale entertainment-retail complexes.

Mohegan Sun's proposal also includes a hotel. President and CEO Mitchell Etess said his firm would generate $6 billion more than other entities over the life of the 30-year contract.

"This would be a very bad mistake," he said. "Our long-term revenue far exceeds any of the competitors. If the state is willing to accept far less money in the long run, there's nothing we can do about it. It's very short-sighted.

"We had planned to turn Aqueduct into a premier destination."

Paterson's choice requires approval of both Silver and Skelos.

"The governor can't give this contract out," said Robert Bellafiore, a spokesman for SL Green.

Aqueduct is bordered by John F. Kennedy International Airport -- one of the world's busiest airports - a New York subway line, residential neighborhoods and Rockaway Boulevard, a heavily-traveled commercial strip. The best proposal would make provisions for job creation in that area, which Delaware North hasn't, Hansen said.

But he didn't specify the type of development Skelos envisions.

New York Racing Association would get 7 percent of the gaming center's net winnings - 4 percent for capital projects and 3 percent for operations - an estimated $45 million per year.

"We're just kind of watching and waiting," spokesman John Lee said, referring to a formal announcement.