Friday, May 15, 2009

Aqueduct Bidders Place Their Bets by Stephen Geffon - Queens Chronicle

Read original...

Last time there were three bidders vying for the opportunity to develop and run an Aqueduct Casino complex in Ozone Park. Now there are seven.
The current list of bidders ranges from major casino operators to real estate and racing interests and is a veritable who’s who of gambling interests that include Las Vegas casino mogul Steve Wynn.

Just in time for the May 8 application deadline, proposals were submitted by SL Green Realty Corp., Mohegan Sun, Penn National Gaming, Delaware North Companies, Aqueduct Entertainment Group, Peebles Development, LLC, and Development Associates, a subsidiary of Wynn Resorts, Ltd., according to Morgan Hook, Gov. David Paterson’s deputy press secretary.

Last October, Paterson selected Delaware North to develop and operate a 328,000-square-foot video lottery terminal facility at Aqueduct Racetrack. But in mid-March the company announced that it would be unable to secure the financing needed to pay the state the $370 million franchise fee. State officials wasted no time and immediately set out to re-bid the project.

Before returning to the negotiation table, Delaware North forged a partnership with Saratoga Gaming and Raceway, which was New York’s first video gaming facility; the Peebles Corp, the country’s largest African-Amercian real estate development corporation, and McKissack & McKissack, the oldest African-American, women-owned design and construction firm in the United States. The four companies now comprise a group called the Aqueduct Gaming Team.

"We are committed to creating a world-class gaming and entertainment facility at Aqueduct Racetrack, bringing to bear our strong experience and expertise in VLT, gaming, entertainment and hospitality operations,” William Bissett, president of Delaware North, said in a statement. Bissett went on to say it would generate revenue, jobs and economic development for Queens and New York State.

SL Green will be teaming up with Hard Rock Entertainment and investor Jeff Gural, who operates Vernon Downs and Tioga Downs in upstate New York.

Both the Mohegan Tribal Gaming Authority and Foxwoods Development Corp chose not to bid Friday, informing state officials that they would be open to the idea of managing the facility if the state ultimately decided to build it.

As of press time, Penn National Gaming spokesman Joseph Jaffoni did not respond to a request for comment.

Both the bidders and Paterson’s administration declined to provide details on their financial offers at this time.