Earlier today, Governor Andrew M. Cuomo announced three development teams from Upstate New York have been selected to respond to a Request for Proposals to design and build a new exposition building at the New York State Fairgrounds. The new 133,000 square foot facility will include flexible space for major events such as car shows and auctions, consumer and trade shows, motocross, equestrian events, equipment shows, and other events that complement and expand the Fairgrounds as a premier year-round destination. The State will privatize the management and promotion of non-Fair events at the exposition building. Construction may begin as early as November 2017, with a substantial completion date that will coincide with the 2018 State Fair and is expected to create over 700 construction jobs. Conceptual renderings are available here.
AUDIO of the event is available here.
PHOTOS of the event will be available on the Governor's Flickr page.
A rush transcript of the Governor's remarks is available below.
Thank you. Thank you very much. It is my pleasure to be here, this is an exciting day - opening day. I love being at the fair. Let me acknowledge all the great people who are here. First, you heard from Howard Zemsky who is head of economic development. We call him Howard "Stick-to-the-Script" Zemsky. Do not deviate from the script. He's doing a great job in economic development. There are hiccups, he was a judge on the beer competition that we held, he did sample all 20 beers. Economic development in the State of New York suffered for the next three weeks by the way. There was a dip in the number of jobs we brought in. but he's up and functioning again, so we thank him for that. I think he's doing a great job all across the state. Give him a big round of applause, Howard Zemsky.
Your county executive, Joanie Mahoney, Howard is exactly right. To me, government is about getting things done. Making a difference, making change. It's not about debating, it's not about politics, it's not about press releases. Get something done. It's that simple. Joanie Mahoney is a doer. She gets things done and she's making this county a better county. Let's give her a round of applause.
Commissioner Richard Ball, who's the commissioner of agriculture who runs this fair, he's done a great job. Let's give him a round of applause. We have just about the whole cabinet here, all the different commissioners, so I don't think there's a lot going on in the rest of the State of New York today. Let's give them a round of applause. I want to thank them for joining us.
My colleagues from the assembly and the senate who are here, they have been great to work with. Let's give them a round of applause.
I love the fair. I love the tradition of the fair. I love the history of the fair. Even more, I'm excited about the future for the fair. To me, the fair is really a metaphor for upstate New York. When it started 114 years ago, it was one of the first in the nation. It was New York breaking ground, New York doing something that no other state was doing, it was New York ambition, New York creativity, New York boldness, New York initiative. We built this magnificent facility and we led the nation. Then, we sort of fell into the status quo and the fair didn't really get redeveloped. The fair really didn't change, it wasn't really updated - 114 years old, I don't care how good looking you are, you need a little work after a while.
One year that I came, I was drinking a Diet Coke, I put it down on a picnic bench. I forgot I put it down and I walked away. Next year I came back; Diet Coke was in the exact same place. You got the sense that we had lost our energy and lost our initiative. In many ways, that was a metaphor for upstate New York. Glorious past, great companies all across upstate New York, economy changed, they left. There was no Act Two, there was no Stage Two. There was nothing that came in to do the redevelopment.
I was Attorney General at the time. I remember meeting with your county executive. She said, "You know, state government just isn't there to help us make the transition that we need to make. I can't do it on my own." I remember meeting with Mayor Bob Duffy, Mayor of Rochester, he said the same thing. "We need the state government to come in and be a partner." Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown said the same thing. "We need the state government to come in and be a partner." The truth is, the state government was too focused on downstate New York. Both the assembly and the senate. That's the truth.
Why? Because most of the legislature is elected from downstate New York. About 80 percent come from downstate New York. The legislators want to do for their home district and they were all from downstate New York. Upstate New York got the short end of the stick year after year after year after year for decades. This fair and the lack of renovation in the fair was a perfect metaphor for that, and that was one of my prime motives to run for Governor because the needs in this state was Upstate. That where we needed the economic help. That's where people were leaving. That's where businesses were leaving. And I don't care about the politics - downstate and upstate - doing the right thing was investing in Upstate New York. And that is exactly what we have done and I am so proud to be able to tell you that my administration has invested more in upstate New York than any administration in the history of the state of New York.
So, it is a new day in Upstate New York and this fair is a metaphor for it. We did the infrastructure work - we needed a lot of infrastructure work at the fair. I don't know if you remember, but when you walked around there would be puddles everywhere and boards that you would have to step through. We didn't have the pipping. We didn't have the electrical system, etcetera. We now put in a whole RV parking area that is state of the art. Doing work on the streets, the parking lots, the streets surrounding the fair - so we've done a lot of work. And now we're going to take it to the next dimension.
Well first, we have the sky ride this year, which is new, which I'm excited to get on. I was one of the first 100 people to the fair today, so I get a free ride on the fair. And that's why, because I was one of the first 100 - not because I am the Governor, but because I got up early. And I'm excited about the sky ride. I'm even more excited for the new expo center next year. 130,000 square-feet, just think of this. It is the largest convention expo center north of New York City, in the entire Northeast. That will change this venue from not just 13 days a year, but a year-round economic engine. We can attract national shows to come to this venue and that's good for the entire metropolitan region. You bring people to come to see a car show, or a horse show, or an equipment show - that's good for Hotel Syracuse, that's good for the restaurants, that's good for the shops. Tourism is a phenomenal economic engine for Upstate New York. It's one of the great engines that's been doing good work.
Part of not focusing on Upstate New York was that the state didn't really promote Upstate New York. And from a tourism point of view, we did 50 million visitors a year to this state, but they went to New York City and they didn't know there was anything north of New York City. You talked to the visitors in New York City they thought once you got north of New York City, you were like in New Hampshire. Nobody told the story of Upstate and what we have. And if you want to have a really great New York experience - great, enjoy New York City, but then come see Upstate New York where we have some of the most beautiful history and topography and lakes. Just everything you could imagine in Upstate New York. So, we invested $70 million in the I LOVE NEW YORK campaign to tell the story of Upstate New York. Tourism is now a $100 billion enterprise for the state of New York.
Last year, an all-time high in the number of tourists coming to New York - 239 million, up 36 million visitors. So it works. But you need the attractions. And you need to keep growing and you need to keep developing and that's exactly what this expo center is going to do. It's another greet reason to come to Central New York. Another great reason to come to the fair. We broke the record last year for fair attendance. I believe with this expo center next year, we're going to break the record again next year and the year after and we're going to have year-round economic activity right there at the fair.
So, today you could not have a more glorious day to open the fair. Not just in terms of weather, but because Upstate New York and Central New York and this fair are better and stronger and brighter than they have ever been before. And the future is even brighter. Enjoy the fair. It's my pleasure to be here. Let's go and let's have fun.