Monday, February 23, 2009

The Illusion of Belmont Park Redevelopment

The New York Racing and Wagering Board and Empire State Development Corp. today released a document entitled, "Belmont Park Redevelopment Study". As the title suggests, it documents suggestions on the redevelopment of Belmont Park and its surrounding area. For example:

"The report looks at developing two parcels totaling 36 acres at Belmont. The report said a hotel and casino could be located on an eight-acre portion, while a nearby 20-acre parcel could house retail space, a small hotel, senior housing and recreational facilities."

I am excited about the prospects of development at Belmont Park. I have believed for a long time that the proposed racino should be at Belmont and not Aqueduct. However, my excitement waned when I read the following:

- it would take 10 months to prepare a request for proposals, which first must be approved by the state Franchise Oversight Board before going to developers

- Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, who controls the fate of bills in the Democratic-run house, has sharply criticized the idea of adding another casino in downstate New York

So, 10 months to RFPs, a likely glacial timeframe for selection, and lack of political support. Perfect. This project is going nowhere fast. And, there is the proposed casino at Aqueduct that is still technically alive. Is the State using possible development at Belmont merely as leverage in its negotiations with Delaware North?

The common sense solution to downstate racing is to add an all-weather track at Belmont to the existing tracks, update the grandstand, develop a casino, hotel, retail, etc. on its vast grounds and provide adequate transportaion there. Then, of course, close Aqueduct (sorry purists) and sell off that land to fund the Belmont renovations.

At the end of the day, downstate will have one fantastic racing facility that is efficient because it runs most of the year. It will have built-in subsidies with the casino and other endeavors. Of course, the subsidies will not be necessary if the OTBs are merged into NYRA, but that's a conversation for another day.

The full report is here. I hope to dig into it tonight for the particulars, but will be pessimistic as to whether any of this will ever get done.


Anonymous said...

Watchful Horseman

24 Feb'09 - various reports coming throu'

Gov Paterson's office, announcing, Belmont a goer.

And Delaware North, now publicly stating, they want Belmont Legislation passed, to alter the VLT rates changed before the 31 March, this year ! or they don't pony up their invisible Aqueduct dosh.

Perhaps a face saving way, for Delaware North, to withdraw from Aqueduct, through the backdoor, from whence they came, for if such legislation is passed, other bidders will/must have lay-down mazure to sue…

& everyone goes back to court, nothing happens at Aqueduct in the short/medium term..

perhaps also, a face saving exercise, for Gov Paterson, until electionssss, which seem to be already, higher on his agenda

Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver (him, of many 'chit's), somehow, will suddenly now agree, to this legislation, especially before the 31st of March - THIS YEAR??
It will be fitting, April Fools Day, the following day..

Anonymous said...

Watchful Horseman

The NY Times, 21st Feb - Charles J. O’Byrne, the former top aide to Gov. David A. Paterson whose resignation amid a tax scandal last year destabilized the administration, will return to help oversee the governor’s 2010 re-election campaign, the governor’s Paterson's office said on Saturday.

The person, who spoke on the condition of anonymity in order to discuss decisions that the administration had not revealed publicly, said it was possible that more top positions in the governor’s cabinet could change hands in the coming days and weeks.


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