Sunday, January 22, 2012
Andrew still thinks convention center will fly
From the NY Times:
Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, stung by widespread doubts about his support for the privately financed construction of the country’s largest convention center at the Aqueduct racetrack in Queens, offered a full-throated defense of the proposal on Thursday, saying the only cost to the state if the project failed would be “an empty building.”
Dismissing concerns about the weak economic health of the convention business, Mr. Cuomo promised that the Queens project would “cost the State of New York bubkes,” while freeing up for development the valuable land underneath the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center in Manhattan.
In an interview with editors and writers for The New York Times, Mr. Cuomo sounded frustrated about the skeptical reaction to the convention center idea, which he proposed during his State of the State address on Jan. 4. He said the proposed development — which would include hotels, restaurants and expanded gambling, as well as the convention center — combined with the redevelopment of Manhattan’s Far West Side, would generate jobs and significant tax revenues. And he voiced confidence in Genting, the Malaysian company that runs a gambling hall at Aqueduct and proposes to spend $4 billion on the convention center.
Mr. Cuomo dismissed concerns about its distance from Manhattan attractions. He said the complex would attract “more of a mass, blue-collar clientele that probably wouldn’t be going to the Broadway shows anyway,” and said many of those who patronized the convention center would be arriving by plane.
At times, Mr. Cuomo seemed to distance himself from the entire matter, saying that if he had been governor in an earlier time, he would not have supported allowing gambling parlors at racetracks, or casinos on Indian reservations, but noting that those forms of gambling already exist in New York. And insisting that taxpayers have no risk in the project, he said, “If we were investing money that we could lose, this could be a problem.”