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Yonkers officials upset that city's name left off Legoland facility

Yonkers Mayor Mike Spano speaks at a news

Yonkers Mayor Mike Spano speaks at a news conference. (Aug. 28, 2012) Photo Credit: Angela Gaul

As Legoland prepares to open its newest location in Yonkers, officials are accusing the multinational toy manufacturer of giving the state's fourth-largest city the cold shoulder.

The Legoland Discovery Center Westchester at Ridge Hill -- the company's first location in New York -- is expected to open March 27, bringing new jobs and economic growth to a city that has struggled to rebound following the Great Recession.

Still, Yonkers officials say they feel slighted by the emphasis on the county's name, not the city's, in the center's name.

Mayor Mike Spano has sent a letter to Legoland Discovery Center Westchester General Manager Chris Mines, calling on him to consider changing its official title to include Yonkers.

"I am perplexed as to why Legoland would advertise the names of each of its Discovery Center host cities, but not acknowledge its Yonkers location," Spano wrote.

In response, Mines said the decision to use 'Westchester' was made by Merlin Entertainments, the British company that owns several of the Lego centers, but he quickly pointed out that the company is "honored" to be located in Yonkers.

"The feeling is the name choice reflects and conveys that we serve all of Westchester and the surrounding area, and also follows the lead of Ridge Hill, as they are Westchester's Ridge Hill," Mines wrote.

A spokesman for Merlin Entertainment in New York couldn't immediately be reached for comment Monday.

To be sure, Yonkers is the only one of the nine cities with Legoland Discovery Centers -- including Atlanta; Chicago; Kansas City, Mo.; Manchester, England; Toronto; and Berlin -- not specifically listed as a location.

City Councilman John Larkin, the board's Republican minority leader, said he plans to introduce a resolution at Tuesday night's council meeting calling on Lego officials to include Yonkers in the formal name of the new facility.

"We're proud that they're here in Yonkers, but we wish they would be as proud to be here as well," he said Monday.

Larkin said the company's explanation that the facility will serve the surrounding region, not just Yonkers, doesn't wash.

"That would be acceptable if the same reasoning was applied to the other locations around the world," he said.

The 32,300-square-foot indoor Yonkers facility, estimated to cost more than $12 million, will be the fifth to open nationwide since 2008, according to the company's website. The other U.S. locations are in Chicago; Dallas; Kansas City, Mo.; and Atlanta. A Toronto site broke ground last year, and two are scheduled for Asia next year, company officials say.

The Legoland center, designed for children ages 3-10, will feature two kiddie rides, Lego movies, party rooms for rent and a Miniland of New York City landmarks built out of Lego bricks.

Lego officials are offering specially priced advance tickets for opening-day activities at $13.50 for both adults and children. After the opening, admission will be $19.50 for adults and $15 for children, with all activities included.

The Yonkers facility is expected to draw 300,000-350,000 visitors annually and create about 100 jobs.

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