Today’s news:

Aqueduct gaming deal is dead

The deal between the company awarded the contract to install video lottery terminals at Aqueduct and the state has collapsed, state Sen. Joseph Addabbo (D−Howard Beach) and state Assemblywoman Audrey Pheffer (D−Rockaway Beach) said in a joint statement.

Delaware North, a Buffalo−based company which promised the state a $370 million upfront payment as part of its winning bid to install the 4,500 VLTs, is unable to follow through on its bid, according to the two Queens legislators.

During an October news conference at Aqueduct to announce the selection of Delaware North for the contract, the company’s president said the downturn in the economy would not affect Delaware North’s ability to meet the conditions of its bid.

Addabbo and Pheffer said the state declined Delaware North’s offer to restructure its bid after the company informed Albany that it would not be able to deliver the $370 million.

Pheffer pointed out that Delaware North “was never our first choice” out of the three bidders vying for the contract.

“There were others that not only had a better working relationship with our community but also had a more fiscally viable project,” she said. “Delaware North was chosen for their promise to pay $370 million upfront, and they have lost the deal because of their inability to live up to that commitment.”

The state will now be looking to find another company for the VLTs.

“I look forward to working to ensure that community concerns and input are included in the process,” Addabbo said.

As late as Monday, Addabbo said he was trying to sort out rumors about the future of Aqueduct, which included steering some of the federal stimulus package money to help Delaware North fulfill its bid.

Besides the VLTs, it is unclear what the long−term plans for the track are. Some ideas being floated include a restaurant, hotel and retail shops.

“I had residents tell me they’ll put up a ‘For Sale’ sign depending on what happens for Aqueduct,” Addabbo said.

Before the deal fell through, Addabbo said there had been unconfirmed reports that the rough economy may be hampering Delaware North’s ability to give the state the $370 million it promised.

Addabbo suggested that other companies be brought in to operate Aqueduct if Delaware North is not viable.

“We’re losing out on a lot of jobs that may come out of Aqueduct,” he said.

CB 10 Chairwoman Betty Braton noted that Delaware North was the community’s third choice to run Aqueduct out of three bidders.

She said the other two bidders — SL Green and Capital Play — should be allowed back into the selection process and submit alternative proposals if Delaware North is allowed to renegotiate its deal.

Reach reporter Howard Koplowitz by e−mail at hkoplowitz@timesledger.com or by phone at 718−229−0300, Ext. 173.

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