Home Queens From Resorts World NY, an approach to transit naming rights

From Resorts World NY, an approach to transit naming rights

by Benjamin Kabak

During Thursday night’s Public Advocate debate, three of the five candidates expressed their support for subway naming rights deals. I don’t know why the other two were so hesitant, but Tish James, Daniel Squadron and Sidique Wai all said they would support such deals. This is hardly a controversial position to take, but it’s one that requires a partner. New Yorkers can support naming rights until the cows come home, but if no one is buying them, what’s the point?

Over the past few years, I’ve detailed repeated attempts by, well, every transit agency around to sell station naming rights, and successes have been few and far between. At some point, I’m going to put together a master list of every agency that wants to sell naming rights with a glimpse at those that have been successful. As you can imagine, the former far out-number the latter.

Naming rights in New York City entered the fray a few weeks ago when the MTA put forward an official policy on assessing these deals. The agency’s annual take from naming rights is $200,000, but now they have a plan should someone come knocking. And lo and behold, someone has sort of come knocking. That someone is the Resorts World New York casino out in Queens.

The casino, the first of its kind within the boroughs of New York, is located near the Aqueduct Racetrack stop on the A train. For years, that stop has not been a crown jewel of the system. Decrepit and open only in one direction and also only sometimes, the station is a far cry from, well, anywhere. Its neighbor to the south is the Howard Beach station that feeds weary travelers to JFK Airport, and it was purely functional.

As part of its entry into New York, though, the casino funded a $15 million station renovation. The Resorts World SkyBridge is the centerpiece of this work. It’s a covered passageway that offers, as the casino put it in a press release, “an enclosed, temperature-controlled, direct path between the casino and the station.” Furthermore, the station — on the northbound side — is now a 24/7 stop. Some Ozone Park residents don’t need to take the 1500-foot walk to the next stop, and casino-goers can buy a MetroCard in the Resort World gift shop before boarding the A train.

Jose Martinez of NY1 was at the opening, and he reported that Resorts World is interested in securing some naming rights to this station. As politicians are hoping that the MTA will consider building a platform on the Rockaway-bound side of this station, casino officials want their name on the renovated stop. “We’ve been asking them for the last several months what we can do to get the station named after us,” Edward Farrell, president of Resorts World Casino New York City, said to New York 1. “We definitely want it done.”

If this deal is completed, it could set a potential model for future engagements in New York. A private entity right near a subway stop — and, in fact, one of the main reasons for people to use this subway stop — helped fund the renovation and wants naming rights as well. That’s the ideal situation. How many of those opportunities exist throughout the city though? Probably a few, but nearly as many as politicians eager for more revenue would like.

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Walt Gekko August 16, 2013 - 2:28 am

What I would be looking at doing if I were running Genting would be to do the following:

1. Build a Southbound platform for trains coming to Aqueduct from Manhattan.

2. Have the missing “express track” rebuilt plus have necessary switches built north and (on the “express tracks”) south of the station.

3. Build an island platform in the middle with a bridge above all of the platforms.

Doing this allows the Aqueduct station to become a short-turn terminal when necessary because of track work south of the station while also if warranted allow for an extended Rockaway Park shuttle to Aqueduct.

Even just the actual improvements already done to me will pay for themselves.

Duke August 16, 2013 - 2:54 pm

The Aqueduct Racetrack station would be a lot less useless if it had a southbound platform. The other measures you mention are probably unnecessary since trains can already be short turned at Howard Beach. What I would do, though, is add an exit to Pitkin Ave at the north end of the station, so the neighborhood can use it as well as casino/racetrack patrons.

On another note… has Aqueduct Racetrack has actually now become a 24/7 stop? How long has that been the case? As of December 2012 (last time I was by there) it most certainly was not. Now you’re making me want to take a ride out there to see if this rumor is true…

Clarke August 16, 2013 - 4:25 pm

I believe last week or so it became a full-time stop.

Jonathan August 16, 2013 - 8:35 am

My thinking is that naming rights are only going to be valuable at the busiest stations, and that in order to be really lucrative, these deals are going to need to involve some remodeling, logos, and possibly even a retail presence. The stations might look more like the corporate billboards stadiums have become, or the shopping malls many metro train stations have become. I don’t know if that’s a good trade off or not. It would be interesting to see a actual proposal for something like that to get a better idea of what it might entail.

SEAN August 16, 2013 - 9:05 am

I know what you are saying, but it’s not a one size fits all issue. I’ve said before I’m personally for naming rights deals, however they must not be visually overwelming or in poor taste.

There are some deals that if done correctly, would be quite beneficial to areas in & around the stations involved.

1. Times Square – a partnership between the NYT & the Times Square Partnrship or what that NFP is called.

2. Harrald Square – sort of the same idea between Macy’s & the 34th street partnership. Plus I would try to get Vornado onboard since they own several buildings in the area & this would benefit them greatly.

Benjamin Kabak August 16, 2013 - 9:11 am

You should read my post from a few weeks back about the MTA’s own guidelines.

As to your specific ideas, there’s a 0% chance The Times is paying the MTA anything for anything.

SEAN August 16, 2013 - 10:22 am

I did read that post Benjamin, infact I commented there as well. Nothing was ment to sound like it was set in stone, rather the point was what could be achieved when the right partners get involved NYT or no NYT.

SEAN August 16, 2013 - 8:36 am

Perhaps some dollars thrown in for the Rockaway Beach reactivation wouldn’t hert eather? After all Genting would get something out of it, namely the appearance of being a good corporate citizen.

Phil August 16, 2013 - 12:46 pm

They should work out a deal so they can name the stations on the reactivated rail with a set of themed names about gambling/casinos. I’m sure that will get people thinking about the casino and going there to gamble.

John-2 August 16, 2013 - 8:51 am

As a major destination in an otherwise set-apart location, the stop is similar to Yankee Stadium or Citi Field. If the MTA can wring a few dollars out of Resorts World to specifically put their name on the place, that’s good, but as noted, there are few spots in the system where a specific business in the area is so iconic it justifies renaming the station without confusing more riders than it helps.

Longer-term, aside from the new station platform and naming rights, Resorts World is potentially the most powerful ally that supporters of a revived Rockaway Branch service have. If the facility is doing well enough with passengers arriving by rail to want an arrival platform built, it no doubt would like to also have a link to potential customers in northern Queens and Midtown Manhattan who would see the new line as a shortcut to the Aqueduct area.

JJJJ August 16, 2013 - 11:01 am

Makes sense in this case. As pointed out above, no difference than a Yankee stadium stop. I assume the casino is more relevant these days than the track

JJJJ August 16, 2013 - 11:02 am

BTW, for your naming rights article, you may want to look at Boston. I believe Tufts Medical Center paid money so all the maps and signs would reflect their new name, vs new england medical center.

Chris C August 16, 2013 - 12:44 pm

Rather than renaming stations why not do what happens at some of the railway stations here in the UK (and especially London)?

They sell signs that are exactly the same size and placed underneath the station name sign on the platform that says e.g.

‘Home of the XX mega corporation’
‘Home of the University of XX’
‘Hope of the XX Estate Agency’

Stations are therefore not renamed on maps or in announcements but the station owner does gain some advertising revenue.

No maps get changed and once the deal ends the signs are simply removed until the next set of advertising has been sold.

The Transport for London has also looked at naming rights but I think it came to the conclusion that it wasn’t worth it in terms of the amounts earned – small once the costs of changing all the maps at stations and on trains etc is taken into account – or in the resulting passenger confusion.

There are a couple of stations that have the name of a company in them but it reads e.g. ‘Custom House for ExCel’ but that is to avoid confusion rather than as part of a naming deal. But in the online search engine on TFL the ‘for …’ is not listed

There are two stations that are part of an explicit naming deal and those are for the cable car line and were named right from the start and not at a later date.

Al August 17, 2013 - 4:25 pm

Announcements is an interesting one. I’m imagining:

“Next stop is 34th St – Herald Square. Change here for BDFM, N and R trains. Exit here for Macy’s, Manhattan Mall”

I imagine the MTA would get less money, but you could call out multiple places. And it would be a lot less disruptive.

Bolwerk August 18, 2013 - 1:57 pm

Yeah, why have mass transit if it’s not to subsidize big business?

Jeff August 19, 2013 - 11:22 am

Who’s subsidizing who here?

The “big businesses” are sponsoring the subway stop, not the other way around.

stephen - nyc August 19, 2013 - 1:11 pm

First off, I despise naming rights.
However, your idea is an ok one, since it’s not a naming rights deal. And since the maps are not changed and the conductor does not say those names, it would be ok. We have the Adopt-A-Highway program to allow for companies (and people, if they are so inclined) to pay for its cleanup. The signs are a standard size. And they only cover a mile of the highway.
I hope the companies don’t tout their ‘sign’ in their other advertisements (as in ‘hey, don’t forget to see our sign in the xyz station of the Tube). You know, like when a car company has an advert and they end it by saying ‘be sure to see our car in the new james bond movie.’


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