12/10/2005 1:00AM

Proposed property deal would give NYRA $5M


OZONE PARK, N.Y. - The New York Racing Association stands to gain $5 million in revenue and thus could avoid filing for bankruptcy - at least temporarily - under a proposed land sale with the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey.

According to NYRA officials, a deal has not yet been reached, and it was unclear which piece of property the sale involved. According to published reports, the New York Racing Association Oversight Board, set up by state legislators last summer to oversee, monitor, and review all of NYRA's transactions, has approved the proposed sale, as has the Port Authority.

"The Port Authority has authorized their executive director to negotiate some kind of land deal with NYRA up to a purchase price of $5 million,'' said NYRA's president, Charles Hayward. "We haven't reached a deal as of yet. The good news is [the state] is showing an appetite at least to begin to help us out. We have been clear that that $5 million is not a solution."

NYRA has said that it needs at least $20 million to operate through late next year, when it is hoped that a video lottery terminal project gets under way. NYRA also has told state legislators that it is quickly running out of cash and has started to make plans to file for bankruptcy by the end of this month. Hayward said if NYRA gets this $5 million, it could delay any bankruptcy filing by two months.

According to reports, the state oversight board said in a press release that any money NYRA realizes from this land sale, which is not to exceed $5 million, "will be reinvested in capital assets of the racing franchises after NYRA's Aqueduct VLT facility becomes operational."

NYRA has been seeking permission to sell 80 parcels of land near Aqueduct, but has yet to gain the state's approval to do so. The state has already forced NYRA to cancel a sale of 19 paintings it had planned to auction off at Sotheby's earlier this month.