The owner of a Queens casino is betting that improvements it helped pay for at a neighboring subway station will be a boon for business. NY1's Jose Martinez filed the following report.
It was two years and $15 million in the making, and some would say it's only half done. It's the new-look Aqueduct Racetrack stop on the A line.
Well, not entirely new. It still has just one platform, serving trains heading in just one direction.
"They opened it up. That's a pretty good thing, I think, but they need to get one on the other side," said one person.
The platform serves only trains coming from Rockaways or Howard Beach, as it has since the station first opened in 1956 to handle passengers heading to the track. But the crowds no longer show up only from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. during horse racing season at what, until last week, was the only seasonal station in the system. It's now open year-round, 24 hours a day, for gamblers who prefer video slots and table games.
"We can get off right here and go straight into the casino if we choose to," said one person.
That's the Resorts World Casino, which opened at Aqueduct two years ago. It picked up the entire tab for the renovation, including a climate-controlled covered walkway that delivers gamblers right to the gaming den.
"Rain or shine, 24 hours, seven days a week, the sky bridge is open so that you can get into the casino," said Edward Farrell, president of Resorts World Casino New York City.
Resorts said it's hoping for another platform at the station so riders coming from Manhattan, Brooklyn and other parts of Queens will no longer have to travel to Howard Beach and turn around or catch a shuttle to the casino from the nearby Aqueduct/North Conduit stations.
"Our goal is to see a second platform built, but that's in the long-term plan," said Assemblyman Phil Goldfeder of Queens.
That's not the only change that may be coming to the station. The Metropolitan Transportation Authority recently set rules for how sponsors willing to pay the right price could have their names applied to subway stations, and Farrell said he'd love to see the Resorts name go on the station now known as Aqueduct Racetrack.
"We've been asking them for the last several months what we can do to get the station named after us," Farrell said. "We definitely want it done."
That may not be such a long shot. An agency spokesman confirmed that the MTA's been in discussions about the naming rights.