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Archive for Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Casino at Kansas Speedway proposed

First group of applications to be made public next week

September 19, 2007

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— Kansas Speedway and the Cordish Co. will seek to jointly develop and manage a state-owned casino at the racetrack, Kansas Speedway says.

Track president Jeff Boerger said a proposal will come next week, referring to a deadline for Wyandotte County casino proposals to be filed with the county government.

Boerger said the casino likely would be on the east side of track complex northwest of where Interstate 70 and I-435 intersect. But Boerger declined to give any specifics about the plan.

He said a half-dozen casino companies have approached speedway officials in recent months wanting to collaborate on a gambling project.

Baltimore-based Cordish developed two south Florida Hard Rock resort casinos that the Seminole tribe owns. The company also is developing the Power & Light entertainment district in downtown Kansas City, Mo.

And Cordish already is working with Kansas Speedway owner International Speedway Corp. of Florida on an entertainment project in Daytona Beach, Fla. The companies announced in May that they're developing the $250 million Daytona Live theater, hotel and dining project at Daytona International Speedway.

The proposed casino in Wyandotte County will be a "world-class development that will be a major attraction for the state of Kansas to complement the speedway and all it's done for the area," said Cordish principal Joe Weinberg.

Speedway officials said they want the project to add to the track, not take away business from neighboring shops, such as those in the nearby Village West and Legends complexes.

The speedway and Cordish proposal is the first one confirmed in Wyandotte County. Under Kansas law, only one state-owned casino will be allowed in the county.

Companies must have the backing of local government for the state to choose them for a management license. The Unified Government of Wyandotte County and Kansas City, Kan., has said it will consider endorsing only casino projects that are worth at least $300 million.

On Monday, the Unified Government is expected to reveal the first group of Wyandotte County applicants. Local government officials can endorse more than one project, and any potential developers then would have until Dec. 31 to apply for a contract with the Kansas Lottery.

The new law, which took effect in April, allows a single casino in each of four areas. The others are Ford County, Sumner County and either Cherokee or Crawford County.

Penn National Gaming Inc. was the first to apply for a casino management contract in Kansas after the law passed. The Pennsylvania company, which has proposed a $295 million hotel-and-casino complex in Cherokee County, filed its application Aug. 31.

A lawsuit before the Kansas Supreme Court challenges the constitutionality of the state's casino law. The court has not said whether it will hear the case.

Gov. Kathleen Sebelius had Attorney General Paul Morrison filed the lawsuit to try and resolve legal issues early on. The new law calls for lottery ownership of the casinos and racetrack slots. Critics contend the state wouldn't be involved enough in the day-to-day operations of the new gambling to be its true owner.

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