Archive for Saturday, December 29, 2007

Competing plans for casino submitted

December 29, 2007

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— Kansas Speedway and a Las Vegas company submitted competing proposals Friday for a casino near the raceway in Kansas City.

Their applications to the Kansas Lottery were the second and third proposals for a hotel-and-casino complex in Wyandotte County. Lottery officials expect to receive a fourth plan before Monday's application deadline passes.

The speedway's proposed casino would overlook a turn in the track. Its partner is The Cordish Co., of Baltimore, which developed two Hard Rock Cafe casinos in Florida and plans to give the speedway project the same brand.

"This will just help draw more tourism, more individuals, to our metro area," said Jeff Boerger, the speedway's president.

Pinnacle Entertainment Inc. is proposing a complex east of the speedway, next to a water park that's under construction. The company operates casinos in four states, including one it opened this month near the Gateway Arch in St. Louis.

"This market and this particular location is already a great entertainment destination right now," company president Wade Hundley said. "Adding a first-class facility like we've proposed just makes it all that much stronger."

The speedway estimates that it attracts 600,000 racing fans a year, and its construction spurred commercial development in the Village West area at the junction of Interstates 70 and 435.

The applicants are competing for a contract under a state law permitting only one casino in Wyandotte County. The law also allows one each in Sumner County in south-central Kansas, Ford County in southwest Kansas and either Cherokee or Crawford county in southeast Kansas.

The Lottery will own the new gambling but hire developers to build the casinos and manage their day-to-day operations. A seven-member state review board will determine which applications result in the contracts.

The deadline for Sumner County applications passed Friday with no new proposals beyond four that had been filed previously. Deadlines for southeast Kansas and Ford County also have passed, with one proposal for Cherokee County and two for Ford.

Pinnacle's $649 million plan includes a hotel with 200 five-star rooms and 300 four-star rooms and a casino with 2,300 slots and 85 game tables, including 25 poker tables. Hundley said its location - across I-435 from the existing development - has the advantage of less congested traffic.

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