NYRA, Magna at Simulcasting Impasse with Tampa Bay Downs

The latest in a growing number of simulcast contract disputes has led the New York Racing Association and Magna Entertainment Corp. to cease doing business with Tampa Bay Downs.

Signals for tracks owned by Magna, which includes Santa Anita Park and Golden Gate, have not been available to Tampa Bay patrons since Dec. 26, said general manager Peter Berube Tuesday. Additionally, the NYRA signal will stop being offered Thursday, New Year's Day.

"Effectively (NYRA) has declined to do business with the entire west coast of Florida," said Berube, in reference to Tampa Bay Downs and the region's greyhound tracks.

The basis of the problem is NYRA's decision to go with one simulcasting contract for the entire state of Florida through Gulfstream Park, said Bill Nader, vice president of racing for NYRA. He indicated Tampa Bay and any other facility in the state is allowed to take the NYRA signal with Gulfstream as the primary provider.

Previously, NYRA had separate contracts with Tampa Bay Downs and Gulfstream.

"For us it's a business decision to make one contract with Florida; it just makes more economic sense," Nader said. "Tampa Bay and any other track in the state are allowed to take our signal if they go through Gulfstream."

Berube said there is no chance of that happening.

"They are trying to circumvent the laws down here," Berube said. "To go through Gulfstream would be taking two-thirds of our revenue, which we are not willing to do."

Since Gulfstream is owned by Magna, Tampa Bay's refusal has led Magna to stop sending signals for all its tracks to Tampa Bay Downs.

Tampa Bay Downs is a member of the Southern Racing Cooperative, which was formed to give tracks more leverage in negotiations, but Nader said a contract is already in place with the coalition and no action was expected.