Hard Rock, of Hard Rock Cafe fame, and SL Green Reality Corp. have together submitted a bid to run the Aqueduct Racetrack, the Queens running ground that has, over the years, been run into the ground.
Rock ’n’ roll and horse racing: it’s an unlikely marriage that just might work.
Just think of all the great rock songs that have been written about the magnificent beast: Bob Dylan’s “New Pony” (“She broke her leg and needed shooting/ I swear it hurt me more than it could ever have/ hurted her”), the Rolling Stones’ “Wild Horses” (“Wild horses couldn’t drag me away”).
Here’s how the plan from Hard Rock and SL Green, the largest commercial landlord in the city, would work:
If, in two weeks’ time, the state chooses SL Green and Hard Rock’s bid, the firms will build a gaming floor with 4,500 slot machines, rendering the race track a “racino.”
With the substantial revenues generated by the legalized gambling den (accessible via the A train), Hard Rock might build a Hard Rock hotel “designed to 4-Diamond standards, [with] restaurants, a spa and fitness center, Hard Rock’s legendary pool experience and a display that would showcase some of Hard Rock’s most valuable music memorabilia; an Aqueduct Entertainment Complex [with] nighttime entertainment and high-end retail and outlet shops; and a Hard Rock Live Entertainment venue.”
According to Morgan Hook, a spokesman for Governor Paterson, the state received two other proposals, including one from Capital Play Limited, with partners Extell Development, Mohegan Sun and Plainfield Asset Management; and another from Aqueduct Gaming LLC, with principals Delaware North Companies Gaming and Entertainment and Saratoga Harness Racing.
“The governor’s office and representatives of the [Senate] Majority Leader and the [House] Speaker expect to evaluate these proposals over the next two weeks and award the franchise once the review has been completed and an agreement among the parties has been reached,” said Mr. Hook in a statement.
John Lee, spokesman for the New York Racing Association, which from its headquarters at the Aqueduct also operates the Saratoga and Belmont Park tracks, said the organization was stoked.
“We’re in the final stages of finalizing our franchise agreement with the state,” Mr. Lee said. “We’re about to emerge from bankruptcy. Things are looking up, and the [slot machines] will give us some capital to improve all three [of our] facilities, and help us increase the purse structure—the money the horses run for.”
“Obviously, we’re looking for a good partner,” Mr. Lee added. “We’re going to be roommates sharing the same building.”