NY’s Aqueduct convention center plan won’t fly
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Friday that his grand plan for
the nation’s largest convention center and potential casino at New
York City’s Aqueduct race track has been scrapped.
He said the proposal unveiled as a centerpiece of his State of
the State speech in January isn’t going forward, but said he’s
begun talking to additional developers compete next year for a
project that could include a casino. On Friday night, developers
surfaced for a new effort to build a convention center and
”The conversations hadn’t really worked out,” Cuomo said of
talks with the Genting Organization. He announced the setback to
one of his biggest jobs and economic development projects Friday
afternoon on former Gov. David Paterson’s WOR radio show.
He said he’s now talking to other developers after talks broke
down with the Genting Organization, which was to provide the
funding. He said premier national and global companies have shown
Genting, operating as Resorts World, said it remains in the
competition and supports Cuomo’s approach.
”We have several great ideas to develop our site into one of
the world’s premier destinations for gaming and conventions, and we
now look forward to working with Gov. Cuomo and participating in
any competition for a convention center/casino project that the
governor designs,” the company stated.
Another major player, MGM Resorts, also said it was in the
”We believe our integrated resorts model, including convention
facilities, will result in thousands of jobs for New Yorkers and
tremendous economic opportunities for local businesses,” stated
MGM Resorts International’s senior vice president for public
affairs, Alan M. Feldman.
Cuomo had said the $4 billion convention center would create
thousands of jobs, help boost the economy and allow a new use for
the Javits Center in Manhattan.
The proposed convention center would be located between New York
City’s airports, and trains could easily take convention attendees
and gamblers from Manhattan and Long Island.
As he announced the convention center plan in his State of the
State speech, Cuomo said it would make New York ”the No. 1
convention site in the nation.”
Public opinion polls, however, didn’t share Cuomo’s enthusiasm
for a 3.8-million square foot facility in Queens that could turn
into a casino complex. Cuomo’s plan included altering the Javits
Convention Center on Manhattan’s West Side for smaller shows and
conventions to better suit its smaller size and congested
Now, Cuomo says he has developers interested in a
”mega-development” that would include a casino after he predicts
voters will approve a referendum to allow casinos to be built and
run by private companies away from Indian land. The state
constitution doesn’t allow casinos, and Indian casinos are operated
under federal law.
”That’s my thinking now, but it’s evolving,” Cuomo said.
In January, Cuomo announced that Genting had signed a
non-binding letter to build what was to be called the New York
International Convention and Exhibition Center and create more than
At the time, state Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli was cautious of
the announcement. He said he prefers a competitive process to
assure the best deal for taxpayers.
Malaysia-based Genting spent more than $774,000 on New York
lobbying in the first 10 months of 2011, or 10 times its total for