Gov. Cuomo’s Grand Convention Center Plan Attacked From Many Angles

Pundits: It's A Money-Losing Idea; Questions Arise Over Agreed-To Deal

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — The signature piece of Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s 2012 agenda is building a new convention center at Aqueduct racetrack.

But on Thursday questions were raised about whether it makes economic sense and whether the state followed proper procedures in selecting a developer, reports CBS 2’s Marcia Kramer.

“Thinking back on what we accomplished makes me tired,” Gov. Cuomo said.

With great bravado Cuomo on Wednesday touted Albany’s achievements and outlined his centerpiece for 2012 — a new $4 billion convention center at Aqueduct.

“Let’s build the largest convention center in the nation, period,” Cuomo said.

Even before the government made the announcement the Cuomo administration had quietly signed a letter of agreement to build the facility with the operator of the Aqueduct racino.

This as questions are being raised about the project.

“Convention centers all over the country are money-losing white elephants, so basically what the governor is saying is that we ought to build the nation’s largest money-losing white elephant in New York City,” said E.J. McMahon of the Manhattan Institute.

“When you figure that the biggest now is only at 55 percent of capacity, is that really the right way to go?” added Hofstra University law professor Lawrence Levy.

Others, however, are gung-ho over the idea.

“The fact is that bringing in a private investment, a $4 billion private investment, in a new convention center is going to be good for the five boroughs,” said Kathryn Wylde of the Partnership for New York City.

Now there are questions being raised about the deal itself. Sources told Kramer that the legislation authorizing the Aqueduct racino specifically states that any further development at the site has to be open to a “competitive process.” Other firms get to make proposals.

And what exactly did they agree to? Neither the governor’s office nor the racino operator would make the paperwork public.

“Any understanding you reach with somebody that involves the use of state land, some sort of concession from the state government, ought to be completely transparent from the very beginning,” McMahon said.

If the new convention center is built the Javits Center would be torn down, but right now its unclear when, or if, the wrecking balls should arrive.

Another question is whether the agreement gives the company the right to open a full-fledged casino if gambling is approved in New York.

Please offer your thoughts in the comments section below …

  • Jimmy

    Gambling is the Opium of the people.

  • NYC Taxpayer

    Will CITY residents be eligible for any of the resulting jobs? Or will they all be reserved for suburbanites?

    • Michael H.

      What are you rambling on about? You’ve posted this over and over again.

      • NYC Taxpayer

        It’s a legitimate question, and I’m still waiting for an answer.

        The casinos invaded Atlantic City with promises of jobs, jobs, and more jobs – except that those jobs have NEVER been open to A.C. residents. I don’t want to see the same thing happen here.

  • Peter Schwarz

    who wants to book a convention in that crappy area when it can be booked in a fun place like Vegas?

    • El Jefe

      You mean Ozone Park isn’t Vegas?
      Maybe some of those jobs Cuomo promised are for new hookers.
      In fact, Cuomo will probably propose legalizing prostitution next. Or maybe he’ll just sign the bill and ignore the required process like he just did in approving the new convention center.
      Gambling and prostitution. That will solve our economic problems.

  • Linda

    Cuomo is beginning to sound a lot like Bloomberg, ” Let’s waste billions of taxpayers money so we can raise taxes and spend more”. Bet they caught this from obummer.

  • gamesgirl

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  • Seenenuf

    Ive got an idea how about when we build government projects we just leave the construction crane onsite so it will save money a short time later when someone new wants to knock it down Even better knock it down before the cement dries and maybe we can get a refund on wet cement

  • Jerry

    The idea of creating gamblers to solve budget woes is amazingly cruel and a backwards remedy to solve our woes.
    Unconscionable salaries perks and pensions should be the #1 target, w/o this addressed sooner or later even casino on every street corner will not be enough

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