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

10,000 jobs.

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


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