Empire City at Yonkers Raceway said it would consider building a convention center after a state deal to build one in Queens recently fell apart.
The Yonkers racetrack, which is 15 miles from midtown Manhattan, said a convention center could be part of its plans as it seeks state approval to open a full-scale casino. Yonkers Racetrack is developing a proposal to add a massive hotel and an 8,000-seat to 10,000-seat arena if it gets a casino.
“We’re a big believer that this site, this 100-acre parcel, is a great opportunity for a destination casino with all the amenities typically associated therewith,” said Timothy Rooney, Jr., the track’s general counsel.
“That means hotel, arena. Whether it means a full convention center or that being part of the hotel and arena complex, I think that’s things we are exploring right now in developing the master plan for the property.”
Yonkers Raceway has nearly 5,000 video-lottery terminals, putting it on par with Aqueduct Race Track in Queens as the two largest gambling facilities in the state.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo in January outlined a $4 billion deal for the Genting Group, a Malaysian-based gambling giant, to build the nation’s largest convention center at Aqueduct. Genting runs the Aqueduct racino.
Earlier this month, Cuomo said the convention center deal at Aqueduct had been scuttled because Genting sought exclusive gaming rights in New York City. Cuomo said the state wasn’t prepared to offer that exclusivity.
Cuomo said the state is talking with other developers for the Queens convention center, but also said he would entertain other sites, such as Yonkers and Belmont Park on Long Island.
“I think proximity to the New York City area is important,” Cuomo told reporters last week. “I don’t know does that mean five miles, does that mean 10 miles, does that mean Yonkers, does that mean Belmont, does that mean Aqueduct?”
The state is moving forward with plans to legalize up to seven casinos in New York. The state’s nine racetracks are vying to win the rights to turn their video-lottery parlors into casinos with table games and other Las Vegas-style amenities.
Rooney said the track would look to heavily invest in the facility if they get a full casino and would consider a convention center.
“It’s something that we’ll examine in determining what we think makes this site a world-class destination,” Rooney said.