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Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Meadowlands Deal on Hold - Again

Due to a dispute with the thoroughbred horsemen, the deal for Monmouth Park is on hold and as a result, the deal for the Meadowlands is on hold as well.  When the deal will be resurrected, if, remains to be seen.

The problem results with the Meadowlands thoroughbred license.  At the beginning of the negotiations, the NJTHA claim they were going to be given the Meadowlands thoroughbred license.  According to the NJTHA, that part of the deal was taken back; hence they have put the quash on the deal(s) going through.  It is important to note Morris Bailey and Jeff Gural were ready to sign the deal; this is a dispute between the NJSEA (the Governor) and the NJTHA.

So the question needs to be asked, what good is the Meadowlands thoroughbred license to the NJTHA?  Clearly, if there is any thoroughbred racing at the Meadowlands, even if just turf racing, a thoroughbred license is required.  If the license is given to the thoroughbred horsemen, Gural would have to negotiate with the NJTHA to have them race there and in effect lease the track.  It gets worse if Gural wanted to race at the runners longer at the Meadowlands, they would need to purchase the license from the NJTHA.

Now my question; not trying to be belligerent is can you have a license without a track to race at?  Is this the reason why the license can't be transferred to the horsemen?  Without a contract to lease the Meadowlands, Monmouth or Atlantic City Race Course, how can the NJTHA own an license?  In fact, if the license were to remain with the Meadowlands and they did not race a thoroughbred meet either at the Meadowlands or Monmouth Park, one would think the Meadowlands would have to surrender the license to the racing commission.  Same thing with the NJTHA; without an agreement to lease one of the facilities (even if for $1), how can they hold the license?   

So where do we go from here?  As long as there is a deal to be signed with the NJTHA, the Meadowlands deal can't be completed.  As a result, it looks like once again, assuming Gural is willing, the Meadowlands will be jointly operated by the NJSEA with Gural guaranteeing the loses.  However, if salaries are not cut 20%, it may present a problem for Gural.  Of course, the thoroughbred horsemen have no time on their side as long as they have their deal completed by April so they have time available to them.

Of course, there is the nuclear option which the Governor has which would cause him to pay a huge political price.  I imagine he can close Monmouth Park will be upsetting the local community which depends economically on the track and then rework the Meadowlands agreement to give Gural the Monmouth OTWs.  With Monmouth closed, there would be only one track represented by the NJTHA and that would be Atlantic City.  While the distance would be too far for the NJTHA to impact what simulcasting can take place at the Meadowlands, it is safe to assume thoroughbred horsemen in other states would withdrawal permission to simulcast thoroughbred racing in the state which is key for the survival of the Meadowlands and Monmouth.

The negotiations started off tough; there is no reason to think the negotiations would end any different.  We'll just have to see how it ends.  Be prepared for updates.

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