- Empire Racing submitted their revised plan, and it's one which represents a bizarre turn for the troubled company. It proposes a joint non-profit effort amongst all four bidders modeled after the Saratoga Performing Arts Center (SPAC). A press release issued on Tuesday explained:
SPAC, like the racing franchise, was plagued by mismanagement and near financial collapse before the restructuring. This new racing association would be led by a board of trustees consisting of representatives of government, the horsemen community, OTB corporations and other community stakeholders. The association would contract out day-to-day racing management to a qualified, business-oriented operator with proven success in racetrack/VLT management.Well, at least we know one thing: If this doesn't work out for Jeff Perlee, he at least has some promise as a stand-up comedian. To state that Empire has "advocated a coalition approach since the very beginning" is typical of the laughably cynical and hypocritical claims and remarks we've heard from the group throughout this process.
“Empire Racing has advocated a coalition approach since the very beginning of this process. We expand on that today by proposing a cooperative, inclusive approach that is capable of being passed in Albany ...” said Jeff Perlee, Empire Racing CEO.
It was Empire who lowered the bar with its relentless attacks on NYRA, starting with the ill-conceived press release which attempted to portray last year's Saratoga meeting as a failure. “This thing has been a mess for years and is just getting worse. 2007 can’t come fast enough,” Perlee said in a subsequent release. When Excelsior was selected by the Ad Hoc Committee, Empire reacted with a coordinated attack, calling the group a "dog track operator" even as its own partner Delaware North actually did operate greyhound tracks. Perlee appealed to the Committee to disqualify Excelsior for unregistered lobbying even as Jared Abbruzzese was being investigated for flying Joe Bruno around in planes. Why, just a few weeks ago, Empire again called for Excelsior's ouster, this time for colluding with NYRA. And even in this very press release calling for cooperation, they still managed to get their digs in about NYRA's 'mismanagement.' Does this all sound like a "coalition approach?"
Contrary to an earlier report, an Excelsior spokesperson told Matt Hegarty that they have indeed revised their bid, and that it that would differ significantly from its previous for-profit bid. Capital Play announced the addition of the Victorian Racing Club to their team, and reiterated the vast sums of money they are offering to invest in a lengthy press release that you can read here. The bids are supposed to be posted on the NYS Racing and Wagering site at some point.
Richard Rifkin told a panel at the Albany Law School symposium: “The governor’s goal is to come out with a result where racing is going to be a major and successful industry in this state." It would be nice to hear that from the governor himself for a change. It was nice to hear that Rifkin acknowledged the critical nature of the OTB problem; if the governor really meant what Rifkin said he did, that's what he'd be talking about instead of closing the Big A.