Steve Wynns May Come and Go, But the Aqueduct Is Forever, Apparently
Reid Pillifant Nov. 23, 2009, 5:57 p.m.
The Queens Aqueduct sounds like a tremendously depressing place. The parking lots are vacant, the horses race in front of mostly empty stands, and the people who do show up stand inside and watch simulcasts from other tracks.
“This isn’t a pretty place,” said Donald Rosen, whose horse, Boxitup, finished second in the eighth race that day. “Hopefully, when they get the slots, they’ll fix it up and get people to come here.”
Is it more depressing than the gridlock in Albany, where they’ve been talking about sprucing the place up since the last economic depression? Hard to say.
“It is a mystery why this is taking so long, since it is costing over a million dollars a day not to have it open,” said Jeff Gural, a minority partner in the SL Green group who owns two small racetracks upstate that have electronic slot machines. “The original decision was promised for Aug. 1.”
So that’s $115 million lost, if you count from the August date, or $2.9 billion if you go back eight years.
And there’s still no sense of when the governor, the Assembly, and the Senate will collectively decide on a winning bid. In the meantime, Governor Paterson keeps changing the rules; he recently demanded another round of final bids, with a new clause demanding $200 million upfront. That twist prompted Steve Wynn, the famous casino magnate, to drop his bid for a Vegas-style renovation. And, in another strange twist, one of the groups recently hired hip hop pioneer Russell Simmons to act as a community relations advisor.
If the state ever decides on a winner, the decision will almost certainly prompt a whole host of lawsuits. “I have a lot of problems with the process,” one attorney consulting a bidder told the Times. “Whoever is selected, I think you can argue that the decision was arbitrary and capricious.”