Streams

 

Aqueduct

WNYC News

Street Art and Horse Racing Merge at Aqueduct

Friday, November 22, 2013

What do horse racing and street art have in common?

Comment

WNYC News

Drug Rules Urged to Prevent NY Horse Deaths

Friday, September 28, 2012

A task force investigating a spike in thoroughbred deaths at the Aqueduct track last winter is calling for tighter rules and better regulation of drug use, particularly corticosteroids that can mask injuries.

Comment

It's A Free Country ®

Who Had the Better Week—Cuomo or Christie?

Friday, June 08, 2012

Cuomo loses a casino, and Christie helps Scott Walker win an election.

Comments [1]

WNYC News

Comptroller: Racetrack Operator Slow to Adopt Fiscal Reforms

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

The state-sponsored not-for-profit that runs the Belmont, Aqueduct, and Saratoga racetracks is taking risks with its own financial future, according to a report by State Comptroller Tom DiNapoli.

Comment

The Empire

Aqueduct owner Genting wants more of gambling take to fund convention center plan

Friday, January 20, 2012

Courtesy of the Governor's office

Governor Andrew Cuomo first officially announced the plans to build the nation’s largest convention center at the Aqueduct racino in Queens during his State of the State speech earlier this month. Since then, the Governor has pushed the plan as a no-cost winner for economic development.

“All the construction work would be done privately. The state wouldn’t put in a dollar. The state wouldn’t have to pick up a shovel. It would all be done by a private company,” Cuomo said yesterday after an even at Queens College yesterday. “What they want is additional racino machines.”

The racino machines are only part of the equation. Genting is also seeking a change to the rate it pays the state on gaming revenues to help make, as one Genting-associated person put it, “the convention center economically viable.”

Read More

Comments [1]

Transportation Nation

NY Gov Cuomo: MTA Considering "Additional Transit Applications" For New Convention Center

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

NY Governor Cuomo

Governor Cuomo briefly addressed the issue of mass transit out to his new favorite project, a massive convention center by near JFK Airport in Queens to be built by the Malaysian firm Genting, which is already operating a racino there. Speaking Wednesday in Yonkers, he didn't say much--but let it drop that the MTA "is working on additional transit applications" to the site.

No word yet from the MTA on what that might be. Transit advocates have expressed concern about the cost of such a project for an essentially broke agency -- and about the inconvenience to regular riders if, say, an express service gets prioritized. In a brief statement earlier this month, Genting said it would pay for transit, but didn't offer details.

Here's the transcript:

Reporter: Are you concerned about the transit extension for the convention center? Is there going to be enough service and is that going to be a problem?

Cuomo: The convention center would be where Aqueduct Racetrack is now, it’s very close to JFK airport,  so it’s a place that is accessible and can be more accessible.

The reason I’m excited about it is it is a $4 billion private investment.  It costs the taxpayers of this state nothing. Government doesn’t build.  I don’t have to touch a shovel.

It would built by a private company, it’s financed by a private company, the state grants the company more racino rights. They would expand a racino, they would also build a convention center. We need the convention center.

It would be roughly three and a half times the size of the Javits Center currently and it would allow us to reuse the Javits center on the West Side because we wouldn’t now need the Javits as the convention center any longer. From my point of view it’s a win-win.

And at a time when government doesn’t have any money but wants to generate jobs, it’s a perfect solution.

Reporter: It’s not in any easy spot to get to by mass transit.

Cuomo: The MTA is working on additional transit applications.

Reporter: Are you optimistic they will reach a deal with the TW?

Cuomo: I’m leaving that up to the TWU and Joe Lhota.  I am optimistic Joe Lhota is the right man to handle the situation.

 

Read More

Comment

The Empire

Cuomo receives record high job approval, but voters think Aqueduct plan stinks: Siena

Monday, January 16, 2012

Courtesy of the Governor's office.

Just when you thought Governor Andrew Cuomo couldn't get any more popular, a new Siena Research Institute polls shows he's done just that.

"At 73-20 percent, Cuomo's favorability rating is the best it has been since April, and his 62-37 percent job performance rating is by far the best it‟s ever been,” said Siena pollster Steven Greenberg in a statement.

To go along with the love affair voters appear to have with Cuomo, he's also managed to get a majority of New Yorkers--albeit a slim one at 51 percent--to believe Albany is considerably less dysfunctional in his first year in office.

Among the Governor's legislative agenda items from his State of the State speech earlier this month, the creation of an education reform commission received the most support with 82 percent of those polled saying they support the plan.

Only 53 percent of voters said they support the Vegas-style gambling legalization the Governor is in favor of having in New York.

The Governor's proposal to build the country's largest convention center adjacent to the Aqueduct racino in Queens received the most opposition from voters, with 57 percent saying the oppose the plan.

“At this point there is strong opposition to the Governor‟s proposal for a new convention center adjacent to the Aqueduct racetrack and racino," Greenberg said. "New York City voters are barely supportive, suburbanites are opposed and upstaters are strongly opposed. Clearly, the Governor has his work cut out for him to convince voters on that proposal.”

The poll was taken between January 8 and 12, and surveyed 805 New York State Registered Voters. It has a plus or minus of 3.5 percent.

Read More

Comment

The Empire

Cuomo writes state legislature on Aqueduct agreement

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Governor Andrew Cuomo sent a letter to the heads of the State Assembly and Senate today, declaring his desire to work with them "in a spirit of cooperation" on the details of the development of a convention center in Queens.

"Given the past history, while I may have the legal authority to proceed unilaterally, I choose to only proceed in full public view and with support of the legislature in a spirit of cooperation," the Governor wrote.

Cuomo hits on a number of contentious points critics of the plan have pounced on--transportation to the site, labor agreements, competition with the Belmont site, whether or not the city needs a new site, specifically in Queens--in an attempt, certainly, to help smooth the process his office has committed the state to, in a non-binding agreement.

"The state is not building anything. We are not spending public money on a convention center," the Governor wrote. "The bottom line is that this is a low risk, high reward business opportunity for the state."

The Governor also again stated his desire for the legislature to take up the legalization of gambling this session.

"I will also ask the legislature to consider passing language authorizing a Constitutional Amendment to allow casino gaming in the State of New York. That referendum would be at best two years from now – if ever – and should be considered as a separate issue from these current proposals," he said, and went on to state that he hoped the Aqueduct deal would be finished well ahead of the gambling legalization.

The full text is below, after the jump.

Read More

Comments [1]

Transportation Nation

NY Gov Cuomo to NY Pols: I Don't Have To Ask Your Permission To Build the Convention Center, But Let's Work Together

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo just sent a letter to state political leaders urging cooperation for his convention center plan, which he wants to build in Queens. The convention center -- with its proposed express subway link --  featured prominently in his State of the State address.

"While I may have the legal authority to proceed unilaterally," he writes, "I choose to only proceed in full public view and with support of the legislature in a spirit of cooperation."

Cuomo also said: "Transportation to the site is an issue that needs to be addressed and we have been discussing the feasibility of MTA service from Manhattan to Aqueduct, with Genting paying the cost of such service." (our italics)

The full text of the letter is below.

GOVERNOR CUOMO SENDS LETTER TO LEGISLATIVE LEADERS REGARDING PROPOSAL TO BUILD THE CONVENTION CENTER AT AQUEDUCT

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today sent a letter to Senate Majority Leader Dean G. Skelos and Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver regarding the proposal to build the convention center complex at the Aqueduct site.
The letter is below:

Dear Majority Leader Skelos and Speaker Silver:

In my State of the State message last week, I spoke about a comprehensive program to foster economic development across the state. As the state’s resources are limited, our task will be to leverage private sector activity without significant funding from the state; no small challenge. Two projects I discussed were development of a convention center complex at the Aqueduct site in Southeastern Queens and the redevelopment of the Javits Center. As you will recall Genting New York LLC was granted in September 2010, the only franchise in New York City to operate a video lottery terminal (VLT) facility under a 30 year lease on 67 acres at Aqueduct. Genting has proceeded with the project, which from all perspectives, has gone exceedingly well.

In the past selection of gaming operators, race track issues, VLT designations have raised serious ethical and legal issues for the state. To be sure, the state’s current gaming arrangements are varied and controversial. I look forward to the opportunity to bring a logic and strategy to gaming operations in the state over the next two years through development of casino legislation and regulations.

In the interim, any transaction that the state makes with Genting or any modifications to the current state agreement will be submitted to the legislature for full review and action before becoming binding. Given the past history, while I may have the legal authority to proceed unilaterally, I choose to only proceed in full public view and with support of the legislature in a spirit of cooperation.

Genting has proposed further development of the site which includes the creation of a destination location of international potential. The destination location will include gaming, hotel rooms, entertainment, exhibition and convention center facilities. The economic impact of the project would be enormous, estimated to create thousands of construction and private sector jobs. The state investment would be minimal with potentially the greatest number of jobs produced in the state in many, many years. As you know, in each of the VLT racinos across the state, the state has, through legislation, negotiated a revenue sharing agreement and such an agreement would need to be negotiated here. Importantly, the new agreement would be binding only upon the new VLT terminal revenue which would be granted to the Aqueduct facility; while the terms and conditions of our original agreement remain in place. Hence, there is only the possibility of additional revenue for the state as our current revenue stream would be untouched.

While the discussions are preliminary and conceptual, at this point the first phase would include construction of 1,000 hotel rooms, theater and entertainment components, approximately 3 million square feet of convention and exhibition space, expansion of VLT gaming space and a parking facility. Importantly, Genting has the exclusive lease on all the land anticipated to be used in phase one and is the only legislatively approved VLT operator in New York City.

The second phase would require additional land beyond the 67 acres currently under lease to Genting. The Port Authority controls an adjoining 22 acres which Genting is considering for an additional 2,000 hotel rooms and approximately a half million more square feet of convention and meeting space.

Genting is prepared to work with the relevant labor unions and execute a project labor agreement. They will also work with the local communities and local governments on zoning, and meet or exceed all state MWBE requirements.

Transportation to the site is an issue that needs to be addressed and we have been discussing the feasibility of MTA service from Manhattan to Aqueduct, with Genting paying the cost of such service.

There is also an issue as to how this racino expansion at Aqueduct would affect operations at the nearby Belmont race track.

The Aqueduct project is linked to the Javits Center redevelopment as the New York Metropolitan area needs a convention site and if we do not plan to develop one as an alternative to Javits, then Javits would need to continue to operate. As I stated in my State of the State message, the Javits Convention Center is too small to be a competitive exhibition facility, and redevelopment of the current Javits site has exciting possibilities for the West Side of Manhattan and beyond. I also believe the redevelopment of Javits will render significant economic benefit to the State of New York which is essential during these challenging fiscal times.

I will also ask the legislature to consider passing language authorizing a Constitutional Amendment to allow casino gaming in the State of New York. That referendum would be at best two years from now – if ever – and should be considered as a separate issue from these current proposals. We would hope that the Aqueduct project could be finalized within one year on an expedited time frame.

Opponents to the project point out that many conventions centers lose money. That is a true point. Most governments weigh the issue of building a convention center with public money as a “loss leader” for the net economic gain of additional tourism dollars, etc. That is a debatable proposition. However, that is not the case here. The state is not building anything. We are not spending public money on a convention center. Genting, a private entity, will take the risk of economic success. I have never been a casino or racino proponent, but we are here now and the question is how to best maximize the economics and protect our citizens.

As you know, we are working aggressively to attract business investment to New York State. It would be ironic to say the least if New York did not seize an opportunity of this scale when presented with it.

The bottom line is that this is a low risk, high reward business opportunity for the state. The Genting organization already controls the land under phase one and already is the only legislatively approved operator for VLTs in New York City. Our only “cost” is noneconomic: the issuance of additional gaming machines at a preexisting gaming facility. The reward is approximately 10,000 construction jobs, 10,000 permanent jobs and $4 billion investment in the state. This investment would be one of the largest in the state’s history at no cost to the state.

A new convention center also frees the Javits site for redevelopment. I think the merits are clear.

I would appreciate your respective staff’s attention to engage in these conversations on a joint basis to see if they can be brought to fruition.

I also think it would be advisable for us to meet together with Genting officials in the coming weeks to discuss the proposal in person.

Thank you.

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo

###

Read More

Comment

Transportation Nation

Transit Advocates: Where's the Money for a Direct Train to New Convention Center?

Monday, January 09, 2012

Renderings of new Queens convention center (Courtesy of Arquitectonica)

Transit advocates are expressing doubt over the capacity to run an express subway train from midtown Manhattan to a proposed new convention center in Queens.  Governor Andrew Cuomo signed a non-binding agreement last week to build the world's largest convention center at Aqueduct Racetrack, but details about how conventioneers would get to and from Manhattan are sketchy.

Even though Governor Cuomo just proposed the plan, he's already signed a non-binding agreement with a potential developer, Genting Americas. That's raising questions about just how the plan to develop the site would work, including transportation options.

(Read Ilya Marritz's terrific profile of Genting here. )

In a brief statement issued Thursday, Genting said it and the "state would work alongside the MTA to help fund and introduce uninterrupted subway service between Midtown Manhattan" and the convention site.

But the MTA is already struggling to provide service, and has a multi-billion dollar hole in its capital construction plan.

Governor Cuomo also recently cut the payroll mobility tax, which pays for MTA operations, though he said he will replace those funds.

One idea bandied about was that the MTA would run express trains along the A line. But that idea was tried once before — in the now-defunct "Plane to the Train."  That service was plagued by low ridership, and created hostility by setting up a service that whisked past waiting straphangers on the local platforms.

"If one of their ideas is to create a convention express modeled after the JFK airport express, that's going to be much harder to do than it was in the 1970's and '80's," the Straphangers' Campaign's Gene Russianoff said.

Russianoff noted that many neighborhoods along the A and C lines — including Fort Greene, Clinton Hill, and Bedford-Stuyvesant — have undergone rapid growth in recent years, and couldn't withstand reductions in service.

But Bob Yaro, president of the Regional Plan Association, which is backing the convention plan, thought adding express trains might be possible.

Yaro also said the air train to JFK could be extended to Aqueduct, or the LIRR Rockaway Beach line could be brought back to life. Both plans would cost considerably more.

A spokesman for the MTA, Jeremy Soffin,  issued a statement saying:

"Though we haven’t seen any proposals, we look forward to working with all involved to discuss ways to improve transit access to the site within fiscal and operating constraints.”

Read More

Comments [4]

WNYC News

Doubts Expressed On Train to Proposed Convention Center

Sunday, January 08, 2012

WNYC

Transit advocates are expressing doubt over the capacity to run an express subway train from midtown Manhattan to a proposed new convention center in Queens.  Governor Andrew Cuomo signed a non-binding agreement last week to build the world's largest convention center at Aqueduct Racetrack, but details about how conventioneers would get to and from Manhattan are sketchy.

Comments [3]

WNYC News

A Look at Genting: The Powerhouse Tapped to Build New Convention Center

Friday, January 06, 2012

Governor Andrew Cuomo is proposing to build the nation’s largest convention center at Aqueduct Racetrack in Queens. He hasn’t shared many details of the plan, but one thing is clear: the governor’s choice to build the complex is a little-known Asian conglomerate with big ambitions.

Comments [6]

WNYC News

Cuomo's Convention Center Proposal Draws Support, Skeptics

Thursday, January 05, 2012

The governor’s plan to redevelop the Javits Center in Manhattan and build a new convention center in Queens outlined has picked up support from the borough’s chamber of commerce and the Real Estate Board of New York.

Comment

WNYC News

Candidates Take Shots in AG Debate

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Candidates for Attorney General of New York Eric Schneiderman and Dan Donovan squared off in a debate held Monday at WAMC public radio studios and co-sponsored by the Albany Times Union.

Comment

Digesting Politics Podcast

The Aqueduct Report: an Indictment Against Albany

Friday, October 22, 2010

From the NY Inspector General's report on the Aqueduct Entertainment Group's bidding process and what it says about Albany's dysfunction to Andrew Cuomo's tightly controlled campaign and its lack of speficity, eavesdrop on WNYC's Brian Lehrer, Andrea Bernstein, Bob Hennelly and Azi Paybarah as they catch up on the latest in politics.

Comment

WQXR News

Report from NY Solicitor General Finds Elected Officials Rigged Aqueduct Bidding Process

Thursday, October 21, 2010

New York State's highest-ranking elected officials rigged the bidding process for an unqualified gaming company seeking a lucrative contract to bring gambling to Aqueduct race track. That's the conclusion of a new report by the state's Inspector General Joseph Fisch.

Comment

WNYC News

New York Democrats Implicated in Aqueduct Slot Scandal

Thursday, October 21, 2010

A new report by the New York State Inspector General accuses Governor David Paterson and Democratic legislative leaders of rigging the process for picking a company to run video slot machines at Aquaduct race track.

Comments [1]

WNYC News

Inspector General's Report Finds Elected Officials Rigged Aqueduct Bidding Process

Thursday, October 21, 2010

New York State's highest-ranking elected officials rigged the bidding process for an unqualified gaming company seeking a lucrative contract to bring gambling to Aqueduct race track. That's the conclusion of a new report by the state's Inspector General Joseph Fisch.

Comments [1]

Azi Paybarah

Aqueduct's Decade

Monday, July 12, 2010

WNYC

Here’s a graph from the Center for an Urban Future’s new report on why New York’s bet on reaping huge profits from putting video slot machines at the Aqueduct racetrack probably won’t pay off.

“[S]tate officials never seriously studied whether the idea of using video slot machines to prop up a dying race track make sense economically…

 [skip]

“Racing has been a declining business at Aqueduct for a long time. Between 1990 and 2009, the number of racing days dropped from 162 to 117. During the same period, total attendance fell by 82 percent; and after adjusting for inflation, Aqueduct’s “handle”—the total amount wagered on races at Aqueduct, including simulcast betting—also fell by 82 percent. In 2009, average daily attendance at Aqueduct was just 2,408, and the average daily handle just over $1 million.”

The competition to win the contract has been fierce. Three companies submitted bids to run the slot machines at Aqueduct. Two were disqualified. And one elected official says the fight for the Aqueduct bid may be behind a smear campaign targeting politicians in the racetrack's southeast Queens area.

The Center wants state officials to scrap the slot machines idea and instead look at how to use two nearby airports to generate financial activity.

Read More

Comment