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Friday, 20 January 2017 11:24

Senate Holds Hearing on Future of NYRA

By | News
ALBANY — On Tuesday, January 17, the NYS Senate held a Future of NYRA hearing with invitation-only testimony related to several issues surrounding the New York Racing Association. During the hearing, the senate panel received word that Governor Andrew Cuomo would be including a re-privatization plan for NYRA is his NYS 2017-18 budget proposal. “We had a brief opportunity to restate our position,” said Saratoga County Chamber of Commerce President Todd Shimkus, “which is first, to re-privatize NYRA as a not-for-profit corporation, and second, to make sure the State honors the franchise agreement and doesn’t reduce the revenue from the VLTs. We received an amazingly positive response from the senators who were there. The Legislature was really our partner last year, passing legislation that we supported. This was our chance to reconnect and rebuild on that for 2017.” Shimkus had submitted written testimony, as well, and pictured below is part of his presentation, which highlights the fact the Saratoga Race Course draws more paid attendance in one season than any of New York State’s other sports franchises. Maureen Lewi, chair of Concerned Citizens for Saratoga, said in regards to this piece of the presentation, “I think that the chart and the copy on this one page sums up the essence of the importance of this hearing, not only to Saratoga and the entire Capital Region, but to all of New York and to all of the fans from many states and several countries, that Saratoga draws from, to create its unique fan base.” NYRA President and CEO Chris Kay had presented written testimony to the panel, and later said in a statement, “NYRA is the cornerstone of an industry that employs 17,000 people and generates more than $2 billion in annual economic impact in New York State—primarily in the important areas of agriculture and tourism. Our annual summer meet at Saratoga Race Course is an engine for the Upstate economy, generating $237 million in economic activity and nearly 2,600 jobs across the greater Capital Region. As a private entity, building upon our recent progress and record of accomplishment, we look forward to growing our sport, our fan base, and our economic benefit to the State of New York.” In a written response to the Governor’s announcement about re-privatization, Kay said, “We appreciate the Governor’s support for legislation to return NYRA to private control. NYRA supports this proposed legislation, which is the result of productive dialogue with the Governor’s office over the last several months. We look forward to working with the legislature and all stakeholders in efforts to pass the Executive’s proposal.”
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