Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Caesars in The Catskills - Well, Almost the Catskills

According to @howardstutz on Twitter and in this morning's Las Vegas Review Journal, Caesars has throw its hat into the ring with a $1 million application in the hopes of securing one of four casino gaming licenses available in New York State. Good for Caesars; but, they have a lot of work to do.

Although there will be bids for casinos in the upstate Southern Tier area of NY and in the Albany area, there will also be bids for casinos in the formerly popular Catskills region. None will be available during this wave in the highly populated NYC/Long Island area. The area that Caesars in seeking to locate in has some issues, however.

The Orange County of New York is not the Orange County of California. Although there is a large airport nearby (Steward Airport) I hesitate to call it a major airport. The largest city in Orange County, NY, Newburgh, has been a depressed area for a long time and not somewhere that casual tourists venture or will want to venture. The area Caesars is investigating is close to, if not adjacent to, a very large discount outlet shopping center called Woodbury Common Premier Outlets, and that's where the problem begins.

The "Woodbury Common" problem, which on weekends and during holiday shopping times is significant, is a massive traffic boondoggle. The only major artery in the area is the New York State Thruway, Interstate 87. Travelers trying to get in or get out of the area, unless they are coming from the west, must use this artery. But, the Thruway is not the problem - the access roads are. The developers of Woodbury Common seriously neglected or ignored the impact that traffic would have on the area from the shopping center alone. The impact that a large casino resort will have on traffic could be a deal breaker.

Map of Woodbury Common Premium Outlets and Environs

Without exaggeration, there is one way into Woodbury Common and one way out - the same way. Before Christmas and in the weeks afterward, waiting in traffic for an hour or more to exit the shopping center is a common experience. Shoppers have taken to "renting" parking spaces from nearby homeowners to avoid the gridlock. By the time you wend your way onto a public road that connects to the Interstate, your state of mind is a shambles. These will be the same public roads that casino visitors will need to negotiate in order to get into or out of the area.

At 52 miles from the heart of Manhattan,  a Caesars casino near Woodbury Common Premium Outlets would be the closest casino to New York City's 8+ million inhabitants. That's less than an hour away and a welcome alternative to the two large but insufficient slot establishments in Yonkers and Queens. The players are there and they will come but they will not return unless Caesars can guarantee a pleasant way to get in and out of the area. Without a major traffic study and some major infrastructure renovation, this project is doomed to failure.

No comments:

Post a Comment