Aqueduct racino deadline May 8 for developers
by Stephen Geffon, Chronicle Contributor
The rebid request comes just one month after Delaware North, the Buffalo-based company that owns and operates the Gideon Putnam Resort in Saratoga Springs, announced it would not be able to secure the $370 million franchise fee required by March 31 to obtain the exclusive rights to develop a casino complex at Aqueduct. The complex is slated to feature a 184,000 square-foot gambling floor with 4,500 video gambling terminals, several restaurants, a hotel and a 60,000 square-foot conference center.
“We remain absolutely committed to bringing a VLT facility to Aqueduct, which will provide much needed economic development to the race track, and critical funding for education in New York,” Paterson said. “It is extremely disappointing that the economic crisis has slowed this development, but we are confident that Aqueduct will be transformed into a destination spot for racing and gaming fans.”
Even after Delaware North pulled out of the deal, elected officials remained hopeful the area would be developed into a profitable joint racetrack and casino venture.
Assemblywoman Audrey Pheffer (D-Ozone Park), who watched plans for Aqueduct collapse several times in the last seven years, noted that Delaware North was never the community’s first choice.
“I am very disappointed and frustrated that the process to select a developer for the Aqueduct VLTs has been so slow,” Pheffer said. “However, I remain committed to working to ensure that we select the best qualified operator for the VLTs, who will not only benefit our community but who will bring our vision of the new Aqueduct to fruition.”
State Sen. Joseph Addabbo Jr. (D-Ozone Park) remained positive, as well.
“I am more optimistic today about the future of Aqueduct and our surrounding communities now that the VLT solicitation process has begun,” Addabbo said.
As with the original proposal, the selected operator will be chosen by a unanimous agreement between Paterson, Senate Majority Leader Malcolm Smith (D-St. Albans) and Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver (D-Manhattan).
Among those developers expected to submit bids are Delaware North partnering with Aqueduct Gaming, Capital Play with Mohegan Tribal Gaming Authority and the Victoria Racing Club and SL Green joining with the Seminole Tribe and Hard Rock Entertainment.
©Queens Chronicle 2009
EDITORIAL FOOTNOTE; If I were the State of New York, I would be disappointed that the deal between the state and Deleware North didn't work out. Now the deal is for about two hundred and fifty million ($250,000,000.00) in construction costs and the state is taking a aeventy eight percent (78%) tax on the facility. That leaves twenty two percent (22%) for whoever gets the deal to make a profit, after paying the loans, interest, employees, facility and everything else to make a profit. That's impossible. A really bad deal, yet the MTGA (the Mohegan Tribal Gaming Authority) is thinking about doing it. Which tribal councilors are in favor of this deal. Why isn't the tribal council putting the brakes on this deal? Do you know? What do you think?