09/03/2003 12:00AM

Big A grandstand a question


New York Racing Association officials plan to visit Aqueduct racetrack next week to assess the feasibility of opening the grandstand to the public during the upcoming fall meet.

Most of the grandstand is currently unsuitable for crowds, the officials said, because of a construction project NYRA started to convert a portion of the grandstand to a slot machine parlor. The project, which began in the spring after Aqueduct closed, was halted in August because NYRA's partner in the project, MGM Grand, pulled out.

NYRA's chief operating officer, Terry Meyocks, and its senior vice president, Bill Nader, said Wednesday that they intended to tour Aqueduct at the beginning of next week to determine which parts of the facility could be opened to crowds when the fall meet starts on Oct. 29.

"It's something we need to start looking at," said Nader. "There's no definite plan in place right now."

Both Nader and Meyocks said that options for the fall meet include opening only the clubhouse, or opening parts of the grandstand along with the entire clubhouse. No details about admissions have been finalized, they said.

NYRA stopped the slot-machine project because of uncertainty over its ability to go forward with the plans due to ongoing state and federal investigations. The federal investigation could result in an indictment of top NYRA officials, which would complicate MGM's involvement in the project. MGM is heavily regulated by the state of Nevada.