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Friday, February 03, 2012

The Other Shoe

I saw this article from Crain's New York posted the other day on Twitter by Teresa, so a hat tip to Ms. Brooklyn Backstretch. Some of this had been reported previously in dribs and drabs, so I don't know that it's news per se, but I think it is rather significant. Kind of the 'other shoe,' so to speak, as Genting here lays out clearly the rewards they wish to extract in return for building the convention center that even they admit will lose money. After all, they're not a charity; they still want something in return for providing the jobs that a convention center would create.

“We have to have a project here, and with a $4 billion private investment and no tax payer money there have to be business conditions, obviously, that are going to allow us to make this project feasible,” [spokesperson Stefan] Friedman said. [WNYC.com]
So, naturally, Genting wants a bigger slice of the VLT pie. That share is currently approximately 30%.
While specific details on the agreement were unavailable, an example of the sort of situation Genting could be pushing for was given: Pennsylvania. According to a spokesperson for the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board, similar gaming operations about 55 percent. [WNYC}
Genting, however, may want to point to an example closer to home. Recall that the legislature granted Louis Cappelli an unprecedented 75% share for his casino project at the Concord. That project has not, and may never, come to fruition. But that special rate was carved out for Cappelli for a project in which he would have invested only a quarter of what Genting is talking about for its $4 billion loss leader, and which would likely have created far less jobs.

Genting also and understandably wants assurances that a competing casino will not pop up in the area.
Christian Goode, Genting's senior vice president for development, said the company would have difficulty raising capital to finance the $4 billion project if its business model could be upended “with the stroke of a pen,” by a rival winning permission to open a gambling establishment in the immediate vicinity. [Crain's NY]
Raise capital? These guys? They have more money than God Mitt Romney, and I wouldn't be surprised if they pay an even lower effective tax rate. But I guess there's limits to everything. Remember, they're also talking about investing $3 billion in their Miami project.

The Crains article also mentions this:
Genting will pay for upgrades to the Aqueduct subway station and for direct A-train service to take passengers from Fulton Street in Manhattan to the site—with a stop in downtown Brooklyn—in half the 35 minutes it takes now.
Huh? A private corporation funding an MTA project largely for their own economic benefit? The cost aside, doesn't the MTA have far more pressing needs in providing decent service to the residents and taxpayers of NYC and its environs than to devote personnel and resources to a privately-owned casino?

- Good excuse to stick in this video of a song with the same title as this post, from my favorite album of last year.

13 Comments:

Nick Kling said...

Alan,

You said, "A private corporation funding an MTA project largely for their own economic benefit?"

There is a long history of municipalities providing public transportation to recreational attractions. City buses took Capital District residents to Saratoga Race Course until well into the 1990s.

In most cases, the cost was underwritten by the municipality (read taxpayers). NYC should be doing handsprings if Genting wants to foot the bill. The safeguard would be a trigger to end the service if attendance falls below a preset level.

alan said...

Nick, that's fair, but there's a huge difference between rolling out a few buses for a 30 minute trip up the Northway and a project that I imagine would have to at least partly involve burrowing subway tunnels underground. Those of us who suffer through subway delays and needed construction projects on a daily basis would be rightly concerned should any of the MTA's scant (or so they tell us) resources be diverted to a project such as this.

Teresa said...

An express train to/from Aqueduct would be a nightmare for other train riders. It would essentially mean that express service in Brooklyn and Manhattan would come to an end for anyone who wanted to stop anywhere in between Manhattan and Aqueduct. Trains would be impossibly crowded and impossibly slow for the people who actually live and work in the five boroughs, so that Genting could essentially create a rail limousine service for its customer.

Anonymous said...

Fact is perhaps Genting has overspent its mark to ever make it as a profitable VLT only parlor. $380 million license fee, and all the money they spent, (maybe upwards of $300 million extra)over and above the $250 million NY economic devt bond for Aqueduct re-construction, puts them in the deal for too much at the bargained upon tax rate. Convention center, casino games, hotels, something extra has been an obvious need since they signed on.

They are dug in, so now what?

John Manley said...

Have you forgotten -- or perhaps never knew -- that an "A" express train to Aqueduct used to operate from the 8th Avenue/42nd Street station? I never rode it and it was discontinued in the 1970s before I was old enough to traipse out to the Big A on my own, but I remember seeing signs directing passengers to a platform below that which services riders on both the existing express and local tracks for the "A", "C" and "E" trains at that station.

I'm not sure where the tracks for the Big A express joined the tracks emanating from the above platform, but the point is that this has been done before (not sure if there were any stops on that old Big A train or if it ran directly to the track from 42nd St) and can probably be retrofitted to somehow coordinate with today's demand. And remember that those trains ran at a time (mid 60s) when Belmont Park was closed for reconstruction and Aqueduct was open March-July, September-December.

I think NYCTA now uses those old tracks for running work trains that pick up the garbage.

John Manley said...

As an addendum to my previous post, I found this interesting nugget -- http://www.nycsubway.org/perl/stations?7:2345

Teresa said...

John -- I've read enviously about those trains...the old NYT racing reports talked about them all the time. I'm just thinking about all the stops along the route now where there is only one track in direction, but maybe you're right and there are other tracks the trains can switch on to between stations.

Maybe I'll dig through the archives and see what they reveal.

Anonymous said...

I work in Times Square and remember seeing a sign about 15 or 20 years ago somewhere in the 42d St station that said "Racetrack Trains."

I'm guessing they would run them directly from 42d street to Aqueduct on weekdays after the morning rush (say from 11 am to 1) and on weekends with the aim of getting people to the track by 1st post. Basically if you wanted an A express train from Manhattan to Brooklyn/Queens you were out of luck but only in that small window of 2 hours or so. Obviously it would be a much bigger inconvenience or just plain unworkable with trips to a 24-hour casino.

And that Fucked Up album is awesome!

cheers, Chris

Figless said...

Well if I had an express train today I might actually board it and head out there, but for the racing, not the VLTs.

Very solid Big A card, best I remember in mid-winter in a long time if not forever, featuring a true KY Derby contender prepping on the inner track.

Times have changed, it will never be Gulfstream but the racing has actually improved, not that many are paying attention.

And it has a chance to improve even more if NYRA decides to invest in new racing surfaces and basic amenities at Big A instead of fixing whats not broken at Saratoga.

Figless said...

PS - they used to run buses from the boroughs and LI as well, not sure if it was the track or the MTA but the lot was full of them.

alan said...

Interesting stuff everyone, thanks. No, never knew about that A train express; have always made my way there by car from LI or Queens. So perhaps there is some old infrastructure in place. And speaking of bus service of years past, there used to be nightly buses from the boroughs out to Roosevelt and Yonkers too. Back in the days when people actually wanted to go to the track, there were plenty of ways to get there.

affirmedny said...

From Wikipedia:

From 1959 until 1981, extra fare trains called the "Daily Double Special" and "Aqueduct Special" ran nonstop from the lower level of the 42nd Street – Port Authority Bus Terminal in Manhattan and crossed over to the northbound platform to discharge passengers at the racetrack. The special train services were replaced in 1978 by the JFK Express, which ran until 1990 and also stopped at this station on racing days.[3][4]

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aqueduct_Racetrack_(IND_Rockaway_Line)

Anonymous said...

I am sure the Aqueduct Special was running, at least, as late as 1981. It also was not non-stop, as it stopped at Hoyt- Skimmerhorn ( sp? ) and possibly 14th St in Manhattan as well.

While I don't remember my trips on the Special that well, I do believe it crossed to the northbound tracks, as that is definitely what the Train to the Plane did. That train often waited 10 minutes outside the Rockaway Station for the Northbound lane to clear.

I am highly skeptical of any situation that would allow a train to get from Fulton to Aqueduct in less than the current 30 plus minutes. Honestly, I doubt it could make it in under 20 minutes even with a clear track. Sounds to me like they are just blowing smoke.