Last week, there were two more official entries into the downstate New York casino sweepstakes—Las Vegas Sands and the elegant department store in the heart of Manhattan, Saks Fifth Avenue.
Las Vegas Sands Corporation (LVS) announced that it will bid for one of three New York downstate casino licenses for a project to transform the 80-acre site currently occupied by the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum on Long Island into an integrated casino resort.
The operator described the project as a “multi-billion-dollar flagship hospitality, entertainment and casino project.” The company has entered into agreements to purchase the long-term lease of the site of the Coliseum.
“Our company’s track record of driving significant economic benefits to the communities in which we operate and the meaningful relationships and partnerships we have created in each of those communities gives us a unique perspective on what it takes to develop transformative tourism destinations that positively impact the local community,” said LVS Chairman and CEO Robert G. Goldstein.
“Based on that experience, we strongly believe Long Island can be home to one of the region’s great entertainment and hospitality developments. Our announcement today is only the first part of this journey. Our ability to put forward a compelling and competitive proposal will only succeed if we engage with the Long Island community and, in collaboration, develop a proposal that reflects the input of all those involved.”
The integrated resort components of a Long Island development would include outdoor community spaces, four- and five-star hotel rooms and a world-class live performance venue honoring the legacy of live music at the Nassau Coliseum.
The resort property would also feature celebrity chef restaurants, experiential events and venues and flexible meeting and convention space, including ballrooms.
“Other amenities would include high-quality casino gaming, which is planned to represent less than 10 percent of the project’s total square footage,” the company said in a press release, “a luxurious day spa, swimming pool and health club, and a variety of other entertainment programming.”
LVS will work with local Long Island communities to co-create a development plan and bid “that ensures that the new integrated entertainment and hospitality resort maximizes economic opportunity, helps to build stronger communities, and protects the quality of life for all Long Islanders,” the statement said.
Sands will re-activate the various working groups previously established by site owner RXR Realty to identify the goals and opportunities for local residents.
“After nearly two decades of working to transform the Nassau Coliseum site, including countless hours meeting with thousands of community members, the message has been overwhelmingly clear that Long Islanders want a global renowned entertainment destination that creates well-paying jobs and new opportunities at the Nassau Hub,” said Scott Rechler, CEO and chairman of RXR.
“But the challenge for turning this vision into reality has always been the commercial viability of a site encumbered by a nearly obsolete half-century-old arena. The plan envisioned by Sands is a once-in-a-generation opportunity to create the kind of world-renowned entertainment and hospitality destination that has been sought after by Long Islanders.”
Goldstein added, “Our proposed project would be designed to produce tens of millions of dollars in tax revenue for the local community on an annual basis, potentially offering property tax relief for residents. The project would also provide a lift for local businesses through a robust procurement program and support a broad range of community organizations and causes.”
The project would also provide thousands of union jobs in both construction and operations.
“Long Island has always attracted entrepreneurial businesses, and in this case, it would be creating an entirely new industry for the region,” Goldstein said. “The breadth and depth of the job opportunities created from this development, including many with no prior experience or minimum education requirements needed, are unlikely to be matched by any other proposal the state receives.”
“I will always consider Hempstead my home, so it is with great pride that I have a leadership role working with this great community on this transformational project,” said former New York Governor and Sands Senior Vice President David A. Paterson. “We are committed to bringing opportunities for small businesses to thrive, career paths in multiple disciplines for our local residents, innovative approaches for minority and women-owned businesses, thousands of union jobs, and an understanding of our obligation to partner and communicate our vision for the future.
“Our diversity and inclusion strategies will foster an environment of collaboration and economic equity. Our goal will be to ensure that our supply chain is fulfilled from small businesses, minority-owned, women-owned as well as veteran and disabled entrepreneurs based locally so that our surrounding communities are central and fully participating in the success of this project.”
“The entire Sands team is excited for the opportunity to help bring this vision to reality,” said Goldstein, “and we are ready to work in a serious and transparent manner with the local community in an effort to bring an exciting new industry to Long Island.”
Meanwhile, iconic New York City retailer Saks Fifth Avenue has become the latest entity planning to bid for one of the three New York downstate casino licenses, proposing a Monte Carlo/James Bond-style casino on three floors of its flagship Manhattan building.
The department store released renderings of its casino plan, showing well-dressed guests at roulette tables, tuxedoed staff and posh chairs and cocktail lounges. One rendering showed what would be a separate entrance to the casino, with a red carpet leading to a luxurious lobby with several chandeliers and decorative rugs. The casino entrance would be on the building’s ninth floor, with tuxedoed servers handing out champagne flutes to gamblers.
“The casino at Saks will attract an affluent global tourist, and not prey on people who shouldn’t be in casinos,” said Richard Baker, executive chairman and CEO of Saks parent Hudson’s Bay Company, in an interview with the New York Post. “We have been quietly working with community groups including Broadway theaters, retailers and (elected officials) and we have a lot of support for a different type of casino in New York City.”
Baker added that the attraction would promote more foot traffic in the iconic Fifth Avenue shopping district. “All of us who live in New York City have seen an erosion of activity on Fifth Avenue, which is one of the most valuable attractions in the U.S. and is vitally important for New York City,” he said.
Saks will compete with bids from other high-profile companies, such as Caesars Entertainment, which is proposing a casino for Times Square; Las Vegas Sands Corp., bidding for a casino at the Nassau Coliseum site on Long Island; Thor Equities, with a plan for a casino at Coney Island in Brooklyn; and New York Mets owner Steve Cohen, who wants to place a casino next to the Mets’ Citi Field stadium in Queens.
Baker said none of the other proposals is as unique as a Bond-style casino. “In Monte Carlo, they have fancy casinos, so why not in Manhattan?” Baker said, according to the Post. “Why should Manhattan have another slobby casino? We need spectacular.”