03/07/2008 1:00AM

NYRA granted another temporary extension


The New York Racing Association on Friday received a fourth short-term extension to continue racing at Aqueduct while the details of its 25-year franchise extension with the state are being finalized.

The New York State Non-Profit Racing Association Oversight Board voted 4-0 during a video conference call Friday morning to grant NYRA the extension through April 27, closing day of the Aqueduct spring meet. A previous extension was set to expire at the end of racing Friday.

A short-term extension was needed because all of the details in the 25-year franchise agreement agreed to on Feb. 13 by the state legislature and NYRA have not yet been completed. There are no objections to any of the details in the franchise agreement, officials said, but documents concerning that agreement as well as the settlement of a lawsuit NYRA filed against the state in Dec. 2006 have yet to be completed.

NYRA president and chief executive officer Charlie Hayward said he hopes the April 27 date becomes moot because he is hopeful all the necessary documents will be completed by March 19 when NYRA hopes to go to bankruptcy court to get its reorganization plan approved.

f that happens on March 19, Hayward said the new franchise would go into effect on April 1 at which time NYRA would go from a non-profit to not-for-profit association, with a reconstituted board of directors. A major difference is that a not-for-profit can retain earnings for improvements.

Earlier in the week, NYRA was granted approval from the bankruptcy court to sell approximately 70 parcels of land adjacent to Aqueduct that have nothing to do with racing. That sale cannot take effect until after NYRA emerges from bankruptcy. NYRA is hopeful that sale would result in $15 million in revenue, thus negating the need to take the entire $30 million the state agreed to give NYRA until a slots project begins, presumably in the first quarter of 2009.

Also on Friday, the New York State Racing and Wagering Board, at its monthly meeting, approved NYRA's racing dates through April 27.