Questions About Legality, Competitive Process Pouring Cold Water On Cuomo’s Convention Center Plan

Good Government Groups Upset About Transparency Of Gov's Letter Of Intent

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Serious questions are being raised about Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s plans to build the “largest” convention center in the country at Aqueduct racetrack – legal questions and whether promises of a casino gambling franchise are involved.

The pictures for a proposed new convention center at Aqueduct look great, but many are wondering whether Gov. Cuomo jumped the gun by having his administration sign a letter of intent to build the facility with the company that operates a racino there, reports CBS 2’s Marcia Kramer.

“This is not kosher at all,” the Manhattan Institute’s Nicole Gelinas said.

The problem, quite simply, is that Section 212 of the racing and wagering law — the law that set up the racino — states that any other development at Aqueduct “shall only be undertaken pursuant to a competitive process.”

That wasn’t done here and what’s more the agreement with the racino company says their plans to build the $4 billion convention center include building a casino.

That creates two problems: casino gambling hasn’t been approved by the voters and linking casino gambling with building the convention center looks to some look like a quid pro quo.

“How can you say we favor a project that depends on something that is not constitutional in the state yet?” Gelinas said.

The governor’s office said Friday there is no agreement to allow the racino company to build a casino, but good government groups are still upset.

“We’re opposed to a project by which an agreement of this size is arrived at behind closed doors. Not only is there questions about the transparency as a good government principle, but now there are questions about the legality,” said Susan Lerner of Common Cause.

A spokesman for the governor insisted that proper procedures will be followed but given the fact that an agreement has already been reached with one company it’s unclear whether this project will ever be competitively bid.

Questions are also being raised about another part of the deal — getting the cash strapped Metropolitan Transportation Authority to fund and build uninterrupted subway service from Midtown to the convention center.

Please offer your thoughts in the comments section below …

  • Robert Moses

    I fully agree with “Peter” and “the Walkers”: New York City should stick to its traditional roles of ACCOMMODATING and SUBSIDIZING the rest of the state. First, there should be as few jobs as possible (preferably zero) within the New York City limits. Second, whatever jobs are permitted in NYC should be absolutely reserved for non-City residents.


    I live in close proximity to Aqueduct and welcome the new convention center along with the jobs it will bring. For too long Queens and particularly South Queens has lacked investment and good transit. I would hope the new transit route would mean the reactivation of the old Rockaway LIRR line. With the opening of Grand Central Station to LIRR trains it would offer a fast route between JFK the new convention to Manhattan. What an entrance that would be for visitors to our Great City. I know jobs are the number one priority for my neighbors so I say Bravo Mr Cuomo.

    • Peter

      New York will never pull out of its funk if the rest of the state is ignored. GE, one of the biggest companies in the world and once a provider of thousands of jobs in NY, pulled all manufacturing out of Schenectady because of the unions and the inability to get anything done. Property taxes exceed $10K for modest homes in NY when you can get a home 2X the size with 1/10 of the taxes in NC for example. No one wants to live here anymore. NYC is a great place but seems to live in a bubble. NY has all the potential in the world, the Adirondacks, Catskills, Great Lakes, Niagara Falls, the Capital District, etc. How does one explain how bad NY is right now?

  • The Walker's

    Although I love NYC and lived there for 7 years, how about we work on something for the rest of the State? The rest of NY, including western NY along the Great Lakes and near Niagara Falls, with the utmost potential, continues to stagnate with empty buildings and no business. How about putting the Convention Center somewhere where NY truly needs it. For people not aware, NY was negotiating for 9 years, yes 9 years, on building a Bass Pro Shops Store in NY at which time Bass Pro Shops finally said enough is enough and pulled out of the negotiations. A prime example of why no one wants to run businesses here outside of NYC.

  • Bill

    Let’s hope this guy never runs for president.

  • Andyaintsodandy

    So the honeymoon with Mario Jr comes to an end. Its about time this egotestical (and its spelt my way though incorrectly) buffoon needs a good old fashioned Wisconsin recall

  • Vlad

    Put it over railroad yard next to Javits – good NYC transportation options, Manhattan attractions, Waterway across Hudson, existing hotels getting more guests…
    People are coming to the shows in Javits AND Manhattan, we’ll loose visitors by putting this center away from everything.

  • NYC Taxpayer

    Would CITY residents be eligible to work in this convention center, or will all of those jobs be reserved for suburbanites?

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