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Governor Cuomo Joins Schenectady Casino Celebration

Cuomo Administration / flickr

One day after the New York Gaming Commission’s Facility Location Board gave the green light to three casino proposals, the celebration was on in Schenectady today.  At Proctors Theater, officials touted the prospect of continuing Schenectady’s economic renaissance with a gambling windfall.

‘Tis the season….for an influx of casino dollars?  The President of the Capital District Building Trades, Jeff Stark, says so.    "Just because it's Christmas, I was speaking with my grandson last night, who is just shy of six, and he said to me, 'Papa, is there really a Santa Claus?' and I said 'Yes there is, his name is Andrew Cuomo.'"

The governor seemed pleased he'd been likened to Santa: Andrew Cuomo joined local officials at Proctors celebrating the announcement by the Gaming Commission’s Facility Location Board that they'd chosen the Galesi Group’s Rivers Resort and Casino at Mohawk Harbor as the Albany-Saratoga winning proposal. That means proposals for Rensselaer, East Greenbush and Schoharie County are off the table, as are eight of the nine proposals in the Hudson Valley/Catskills region, where just one site was recommended in Sullivan County.

Cuomo seized the occasion to tout the region as a tourist mecca.    "You want museums, you want culture, you want plays... Whatever you want you have here. You want restaurants? WHATEVER you want you have right here in upstate New York."

Mayor Gary McCarthy used the analogy of a baseball game to describe Schenectady's approach to keep vital and stay the fiscal course:   "We don't hit home runs here. We want a single. We fix up a building. We bring in one business. It is that slow, steady incremental growth."

Cuomo and McCarthy lauded the major transformation and development awaiting the Electric City.

Credit WAMC photo by Dave Lucas
Governor Cuomo talks with reporters backstage at Proctor's Theater in Schenectady, NY (December 18, 2014)

Bonus Audio: Cuomo speaks with reporters after the event.

Cuomo: "It's casinos and gaming as a magnet for a larger resort that can bring families, attract conventions, attract people, come, stay for a week, 3 4 5 days, there's something for everyone to do... it's in a beautiful setting.... and the home run, is that casino resort in the middle of a larger redevelopment plan that has housing and downtown and et cetera. The mayor said we have singles and doubles. Singles and doubles are nice, but singles and doubles don't win the game. Triples and home runs win the game. And that's what this is!"

McCarthy:  "This is really a game-changer for Schenectady. It is going to continue the growth. It is a partnership that we're all proud of, working with the business community, organized labor and government, we have put together a package that will make this community proud and set an example across the state."

The casino project is expected to create about 1,400 construction jobs and more than 1,200 permanent jobs. Cuomo proclaimed  it’ll all be done without costing New Yorkers a penny.

McCarthy noted the Schenectady County Community College's new gaming program falls in line with the 24-month build cycle for the resort.    "They can go through that, get a degree and certificate so that they will be that workforce that will enable Rush Gaming to hire.”

Before anyone rolls the dice there are many twists and turns along the road ahead. In the two-year countdown to grand openings, there will be challenges of many kinds.  Background checks and environmental reviews must be completed. Casino licenses must be formally awarded by the state's Gaming Commission. There's also the chance lawsuits will be filed by local opponents concerned about traffic, environmental effects, zoning and the effects of expanded gambling.

Dave Lucas is WAMC’s Capital Region Bureau Chief. Born and raised in Albany, he’s been involved in nearly every aspect of local radio since 1981. Before joining WAMC, Dave was a reporter and anchor at WGY in Schenectady. Prior to that he hosted talk shows on WYJB and WROW, including the 1999 series of overnight radio broadcasts tracking the JonBenet Ramsey murder case with a cast of callers and characters from all over the world via the internet. In 2012, Dave received a Communicator Award of Distinction for his WAMC news story "Fail: The NYS Flood Panel," which explores whether the damage from Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee could have been prevented or at least curbed. Dave began his radio career as a “morning personality” at WABY in Albany.
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