With this type of pressure and other problems to date, there is a good chance that some of the bidders will withdraw or turn down the winning bid due to this unrealistic timetable.
Bidders include a range of gambling, real estate development and financial partners such as Las Vegas casino magnate Steve Wynn, Hard Rock Entertainment, Penn National Gaming, and Delaware North—each of which are currently undergoing financial and criminal background checks by the Paterson administration.
But the Senate turmoil could severely delay all plans. A coup, in which two Democrats joined with 30 Republicans to take back control of the state Senate from Democrats, has stalled all action in the Senate for two weeks. One of the rebel Democrats later hopped the fence, creating a 31-31 tie between the sides.
While the Aqueduct project has already been approved by state law, selection of the bidder must be unanimously approved by Paterson and the leaders of the state Assembly and Senate.
Meanwhile, the state is losing us$ 1 million a day in projected revenue sharing proceeds from the long-stalled Aqueduct facility. A letter to the sent to bidders this week by the state requires them to complete a new series of financially related questions with the answers to go on a spreadsheet so the administration can compare the different plans.
This project, which was first approved in December of 2001, has been through the ringer and the administrations of three different New York governors. It’s likely this will go on much longer than they currently expect—in fact, I would give it another 2 to 4 years until roles in the Senate change along with governmental mindset.