12/29/2005 12:00AM

NYRA deal with state is not final


OZONE PARK, N.Y. - Officials from the state and the New York Racing Association as of late Thursday afternoon still had not reached agreement on a $30 million deal that would keep the association operational in 2006 and prevent it from having to file for bankruptcy.

NYRA officials said they were "cautiously optimistic" that an agreement could be reached by Friday, but they wanted to see the final details in writing before committing to a deal. NYRA will not file for bankruptcy on Friday as it had threatened to do, according to Bill Nader, NYRA's senior vice president.

"Until we see it in writing on paper, we don't want to come out and say we have a deal," Nader said late Thursday afternoon. "We're optimistic we have a deal. This is a big moment for us. We want to make sure that we're in complete understanding what the offer is. We want to make sure there aren't too many strings attached and the deal points are things we can deliver on."

Details of the deal were not made available, but it is believed that the package could be worth up to $30 million, enough to keep NYRA operational until revenue from video lottery terminals at Aqueduct begins streaming in, presumably in late 2006.

Nader said that NYRA would receive a $1 million down payment from the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey for the purchase of a piece of "unspecified property" at Aqueduct. The revenue from that sale could be as much as $5 million. The deal would also include a $5 million loan from the Empire State Development Fund, contingent on NYRA assuring the state it would run racing uninterrupted in 2006. Presumably, legislation would be passed in the New York Legislature in early 2006 to loan NYRA the remaining $20 million.

NYRA officials still have concerns over how the money would be distributed. State officials want to lend NYRA money as needed, while NYRA would prefer a lump sum.

"That's one area we have to figure out," Nader said.

NYRA has said for months that it would run out of money by the end of 2005, but Nader said Thursday that the association had enough money to conduct racing through the holiday weekend, which includes the first two days of 2006.