Cuomo pushes Aqueduct convention center, casinos

By MICHAEL GORMLEY, Associated Press

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) - Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced a plan Wednesday by a private gambling enterprise to build the world's largest convention center and hotel complex at New York City's Aqueduct racetrack as part of his push to expand gambling for more state tax revenue and jobs.

The proposed $4 billion, nearly 4 million-square foot convention center with 3,000 hotel rooms located in Queens between New York
City's major airports would replace the Jacob Javits Center on Manhattan. The Javits Center was considered too small almost from
the outset and poorly suited for the kind of bold, glitzy convention center that would be appropriate for Manhattan as a world destination.

The New York Daily News first reported Wednesday the project would be funded by the Genting Group of Malaysia. Genting runs the video slot machine center at Aqueduct under a state license at the state-owned race track operated by the New York Racing Association.

Cuomo says in his State of the State speech that New Yorkers could approve a constitutional amendment to have Atlantic-City style casinos off Indian reservations. A likely spot is the Catskills, a once storied resort area.

"New York needs a larger, state-of-the-art venue to be competitive for the largest tradeshows and conventions," Cuomo stated in his prepared remarks. "The Jacob Javits Convention Center on Manhattan's West Side is obsolete and not large enough to be a top-tier competitor in today's marketplace."

Cuomo said the Javits Center is the 12th largest in the country.

He said the convention center and hotel complex built with Genting's financing would be 3.8 million square feet, larger than Chicago's McCormick Place, now the nation's largest convention center.

"We will make New York the No. 1 convention site in the nation," Cuomo stated.

As for the Javits Center, which sits on 18 acres of prime, state-owned real estate on Manhattan's west side, the future would be available for new use and new state revenue. The 18-acre site could be used for housing, hotels, museums and smaller trade shows.

It would position the site well for private-sector casinos that Cuomo said should be allowed by a constitutional amendment.

Currently, only Indian-owned casinos are allowed and that's under a
federal gaming law.

Cuomo said he expects $2 billion in new investment at the Javits
Center to create a "new 21st Century neighborhood for the West
Side." Development will be in concert with development at Hudson
Yards and Moynihan Station.

(Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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