Convention Centers: Good Economic Development Idea?

Friday, January 06, 2012

Heywood Sanders, professor of economics at the University of Texas, San Antonio, discusses the economic development prospects of a new convention center in Queens, which Governor Andrew Cuomo proposed in his State of the State Address.


Heywood Sanders

Comments [28]

WD from Queens

Manhattan is not N.Y.C. Well Let private money be used to build, they have it. Let them spend their money, that is their gamble. Channel funds to the MTA We need jobs. Do not blame unions. Union jobs have benefits and workers comply with osha. Also if buyers and sellers want the"" Big ""market, here is N.Y.C.and the tri state region. If people want to drink, dance, gamble, which many do they can stay at the site. The Atlantic ocean is 5 miles away. Gateway National park is here, Jamica Bay , and for people in land lock cities, which is most of the country, the ocean is special. Rockaway can benefit. Let us not forget the great Italian food of Ozone Park. You will not taste a fresher pastry, at one of the many bakeries. Is their a more real Italian eatery than Don Peppe on Lefferts Blvd. Also Richmond Hill with its ethnic flavor 1 mile away. Manhattan is not N.Y.C.

Jan. 06 2012 05:50 PM
Tony from Manhattan

It will take approval by two consecutive sessions of the NY State Legislature to provide the legal basis for casino gambling in the state. So, there will be no shovel ready jobs anytime soon. If you want to attract out of towners to conventions here you have to open up Broadway, sports events, music, ballet & opera peformances to conventioneers. In other words, free or subsidized, good tickets to these events should be included as perks for hotel stays related to convention attendance. This can be done now to boost tourist/conventioneer expenditures in the city. A tix program could be a public-private partnership. It will take only a small increase in convention attendance to cover the cost of the program. Tourism has been shown in study after to study to rank relatively high in terms of output and labor earnings generated, thanks to the "tourism multiplier effect." If we increase convention activity without waiting for casino gambling, new "green" convention facilities could be built on the West Side relatively quickly. Their future tie in to the extended #7 Subway line will lengthen their life cycles (e.g., if the Cornell U project outgrows Governor's Island, these facilities could be repurposed for educational use). This would help the city inch closer to the model of cities like Boston & San Francisco, where education & tourism are the leading industries - industries that grow skilled labor forces. Instead of an outer-borough casino-convention newbuild that won't be shovel ready until the late teens, we should entice conventioneers now by highlighting our unique entertainment offerings. We compete nationally & globally for tourism dollars. Wake up Governor Cuomo! And as for Mayor Bloomberg drooling every time he sees Chicago's new complex, put your tongue back in your head Mr. Mayor and kick start your city's trade & tourism promotion efforts by doing promos with some of your buds from the sports franchises & the Great White Way: media promos with the likes of Derek Jeter, Amar’e Stoudemire, Patrick Ewing, Woody Allen, Nathan Lane, Kristin Chenoweth, Harvey Fierstein, Audra McDonald. Then fly them in a fat cat/angel's private jet to top target markets here & abroad for meet & greets & mini-Broadway gigs for top trade group events planners & their members in order to show off the new incentives for coming to NYC. Don't use the "build it & they will come model," replete with backroom deals with shady developers. Developers aren't interested in bricks & mortar & jobs, they are interested in the profit from the financial engineering that mobilizes these projects. OCCUPY WALL STREET has exposed our city, state & national leaders' bread & circuses approach to governance for what it is (pandering to the 1%) & the citizens of this state expect action that creates jobs, not more politicking & empty & misleading oratory.

Jan. 06 2012 12:33 PM

I agree with Tom about NJ in part.

The Meadowlands is not very desirable as a convention destination, but it is much closer to major transportation corridors (for trucking in convention supplies/ highways/ Amtrak) than Aqueduct, which is so far into Queens that it's practically Nassau Cty. That speaks to costs/ access.

The conventioneers would have the pot sweetened with shuttles, nights out in the city, etc.

Aqueduct does have easier access to two major airports: especially JFK (American/ Delta/ JetBlue hubs) and even to LaGuardia (American and Delta). Realistically, the Meadowlands is more accessible to Newark Airport (a Continental/ United hub which only recently includes Southwest Airlines).

Brian's guest mentioned Newark and Jersey City as potential convention sites. Newark might be a tad unrealistic at this point, but Jersey City is certainly closer to Manhattan than is Aqueduct racetrack.

Jan. 06 2012 11:35 AM
lucy from Brooklyn

so many questions not asked
-why is this a no bid development?
-why does every development project bring in 10,000 jobs?
-what kind of jobs?
-will union labor be used since that is one of the big problems with Javits?
-why would this one developer have a monopoly over creating a hotel, restaurants and entertainment which is where the money is?
-did Gant contribute to Cuomo's campaign?
-why would the rights go to a non U.S. company. The profits don't stay in the country.
-is there a need for another large convention center? Who would choose this location over Las Vegas or Hawaii or Orlando and why?
-are large conventions dieing out?
-why does Cuomo get to dictate this without any community input?
-can the surrounding roads handle the increased truck traffic that would be part of running such a huge center?
-isn't a big part of the agenda handing over the West Side real estate of Javits to other big developers or would it be another no bid situation?

Jan. 06 2012 11:28 AM
Tom from UWS

And, by the way, as far as New Jersey goes, it's slightly less appealing than Queens. It is a nice place top live, not a destination.

Jan. 06 2012 11:18 AM
Tom from UWS

This will be discussed further, so here are a couple of observations: the MTA is supposed to be building an extension of the 7 subway line to Javits. As someone who lives only 40 or so blocks from the center, straight uptown, I can tell you that this would help immensely. Getting in and out of the center is a PAIN. Especially at close of day, even worse at close of a show.

Question 1: Will the 7 extension be derailed because of this plan? Will it continue, to serve the eventual new "battery park city" envisioned at the site? Will the money instead go out to an Aqueduct station?

Question 2: There is a healthy market for mid-size trade shows. Javits handles those well, as a physical plant. Why abandon it?

Question 3: Governor Cuomo is "from" Queens. How long before someone starts calling his plan a home-town project?

Question 4: What will the Manhattan hotel industry have to say about this plan? How many hotel rooms are occupied by trade show exhibitors and -goers each year? Ditto for Manhattan restaurant industry, theater and retailers. My friends who come to NY from Italy every year for the Fancy Food Show go shopping, search out various international restaurants, etc. The idea of being parked on a show "campus" out at Aqueduct ... I don't know if that's a good one.

Jan. 06 2012 11:14 AM
Bob from Westchester, NY

Brian: Your very last comment was the best -- Atlantic Yards would be a much better location for a convention center. Much more convenient to mass transit than either Aqueduct or the Javitts Center, easy access to BAM, great restaurants, the new sports arena AND into all of Manhattan. Not so good for trucks, but exhibitors could ship in materials easily via the LIRR freight tracks. Also, could build over the tracks to avoid displacing people. You should get a slot on the City Planning Commission.

Jan. 06 2012 10:52 AM
SamM from NYC

The Governor is a true showman. He just hasn't done his homework as to why we'd need another BIG convention center upon a racetrack. It's just to enrich the private interests. Rather than learning how to make the Javits center more competitive and accessible, so the eventual project costs would be lower (the Aqueduct is supposed to be private money anyhow?), and Javits becomes more attractive to show producers, the Governor woke up on the wrong side of the bed. Show exhibitors and producers dread NY in general because of high cost; and, the fact that Javits is a pain to get to and from, should be addressed if New York is to attract conventions and shows.

Jan. 06 2012 10:52 AM

I work in marketing and trade shows do play a key role for many clients. Building a convention center outside Manhattan is sheer madness. Location is key — just ask the NASFT who had to move their annual summer show to DC while Javits is being renovated — their attendee numbers dropped significantly last year because DC is not NYC!

Jan. 06 2012 10:50 AM
Melissa from Brooklyn

I used to work as a designer for trade shows and from an exhibit house/client perspective, any convention center for national/international trade shows in New York City would never work. It must be easily truck accessible for transporting in million dollar trade shows booths to be assembled on site. Traffic and unreliable highways, plus limited truck access would not allow booths to be built for the major industry trade shows in the first place, never mind how visitors get there...

Jan. 06 2012 10:49 AM

I'm glad your guest mentioned Governor Christie of NJ.

Currently, the Meadowlands "Xanadu" space is being reconfigured as a mall, just as the Meadowlands racetrack is being reshuffled as well. Atlantic City interests and "racino" proposals in NJ are still under discussion.

Since NJ would not be bound by an exclusivity contract for Aquaduct, NJ and the Meadowlands could develop an alternative to the proposed Aquaduct site as past of a "master plan" to re-vamp the Meadowlands racing and "Xanadu" sites and Atlantic City.

It would take a lot of political shuffling to get all the interests aligned behind such a change, but no less so than with incompetence and intransigence in Albany.

Jan. 06 2012 10:47 AM
Billy Gray from Greenpoint

Man, you know, what a depressing idea, and it makes you wonder why not just fix our transit system? Sucks to get into NYC from our major airports because we have crap transit, so we're just going to build our convention center outside the city, too, to compound the problem? How does that make NYC any more appealing for people who throw conventions?

Jan. 06 2012 10:47 AM

what you are missing in this convo are the unions feasting off of javits, to an extent that many would-be exhibitors have sworn off new york because of prohibitive costs.

would genting reduce union control -- in order to bring exhibitors back?

Jan. 06 2012 10:47 AM
John from NYC

Why can't this proposed engineering campus for Cornell University be located at this site instead of Roosevelt Island?

Jan. 06 2012 10:46 AM
Jim Proia

remember when the IDC (Interior Design Center) was created over the river on the island? It flopped in spite of Jitney's and all. Crossing the river is a pain for conventioneers. This will flop too unless there's a direct subway. that might help.

Jan. 06 2012 10:45 AM
Ben from Westchester

Cuomo is spouting nonsense. I am a New Yorker who does shows all over the country.

The reason people don't come to New York to do shows isn't the size issue. The reason is that New York is too expensive. It has to do mostly with union and teamster rules, with hotel costs and taxes running a close second. New York is too expensive for most shows.

Within six months of its opening, Javits had a reputation across the nation as WAY too expensive and it wasn't about size. It was about the union costs of dreage, shipping, and construction in the hall.

Jan. 06 2012 10:45 AM
Diedrich Knickerbocker from Manhattan

This guy's voice sounds just like Justice Breyer

Jan. 06 2012 10:44 AM
Alvin from Manhattan

While I agree with the guest 100 per cent, he's not telling the whole story about conventions. The reason one of the nation's biggest trade shows, the Consumer Electronics Show, isn't in New York is that we don't have a big enough place to put it. How many shows like this are we missing out on because of the limited size of the Javit Center?

Jan. 06 2012 10:44 AM
Bill from New Rochelle

The obvousd place for a NY Convention Center is DAVIDS ISLAND, off New Rochelle. That Gov. Cuomo wants to put it in Queens shows that ere are bills to be paid.

The great thing about this island is that it is a quick shot from the Island to Manhattan by ferry, and an even quicker shot to La Guardia.

This site has it all; if you consider a quick ferry to "The City," (about 12 miles) or 35 minuted by MERTO NORTH.

The Metro North station is 10 minutes from the dock, and it i s also an AMTRAK Station.,or.r_gc.r_pw.,cf.osb&fp=dc9072f4d1d34f4c&biw=1256&bih=694

Jan. 06 2012 10:43 AM

Why would i want to go to a convention unless there is a golf course nearby and the tempertures to play well????

Jan. 06 2012 10:42 AM
Amy from Manhattan

Yeah, they said the new Yankee Stadium would be entirely privately funded too, but it wasn't. Plus they jacked up ticket prices, & the structure funnels the fans straight to the stadium's high-priced vendors & away from local businesses, which were told they'd benefit from the new stadium.

Jan. 06 2012 10:42 AM
Jon from Manhattan


Ever hear of the A train?

Jan. 06 2012 10:41 AM
Ellen Werner

One of the things that SURELY would happen would be more and better transportation to downtown.

Jan. 06 2012 10:40 AM

Are there large conventions that NYC is missing out on? Do we actually want them? Isn't it the expense of actually staying in NYC that keeps conventions from being organized here?

Jan. 06 2012 10:40 AM

didn't your governor kill the tunnel

Jan. 06 2012 10:37 AM
Magda from Brooklyn

One of the reasons NYC loses out on convention business is because hotels, etc. are so much more expensive than other cities. I don't see how this project would solve that problem.

Jan. 06 2012 10:36 AM
Bob from Flushing

Location, location, location.

There's a reason places like San Francisco, Honolulu, and Las Vegas are popular convention destinations. Unless you spend 24 hours a day at a convention center, sooner or later you venture outside to go to a restaurant, see the sites, etc. With the Javits Center, you could at least venture out into Manhattan with all it has to offer. With Cuomo's proposal convention-goers would venture out into--Ozone Park?

Jan. 06 2012 10:32 AM
amalgam from NYC by day, NJ by night

Terrible idea. Is Cuomo going for Xanadu-in-Queens? If the money is to be spent on construction in NYC, how about money towards water/wastewater infrastructure, another tunnel or subway extension to NJ or improving Metro North rail lines, just to name a few things that are actually needed.

Jan. 06 2012 09:48 AM

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