(updated) Ground broken for Hollywood Casino - Toledo
Written by By DAVID DUPONT Sentinel Staff Writer
Thursday, 12 August 2010 12:25
TOLEDO - The Penn National casino, off Miami Street on the southern bank of the Maumee River, will change the face of Northwest Ohio, officials said at Thursday's groundbreaking.
|Toledo Mayor Mike Bell speaking before groundbreaking. (Photo: JD Pooley/Sentinel-Tribune)
But organizers of the politician studded event, drew on a familiar face to serve as master of ceremonies.
WTOL news anchor Jerry Anderson, a native of the area, promised the $250 million development would "change the landscape, the emotional, psychological landscape" of the region. Anderson, as well as recognizing all the dignitaries on hand to celebrate the event, also acknowledged those doubters who claimed the casino, which sits on the doorstep of downtown Rossford, would never be built. "To those who bet against this even happening, technically you have to pay up today."
Scheduled to open in early 2012, the Toledo Hollywood Casino is expected to be the first of the four approved by voters last November. The other three are situated in Cleveland, Columbus and Cincinnati.
Two Rossford councilmen who have heard their own share of citizen concern about the impact the casino will have on the small city's struggling downtown were upbeat about the prospects.
City Council President Larry Oberdorf said the project had "tremendous potential."
Councilman Jim Richards said that the casino promises to spark "a real downtown revitalization for the city of Rossford."
The traffic coming to the city should benefit downtown businesses, he said.
Tim Wilmott, the president and chief operating officer of Penn National, called Rossford the project's "second host city" during the ceremonies.
While the enabling legislation spells out the gaming company's relationship to Toledo, its host city of record, its dealings with Rossford are a matter of negotiation.
Those talks, Wilmott said in an interview afterward, have already begun.
A prime concern will be who will serve as first responder for emergencies at the casino, he said.
Richards said that discussions in the council's Safety Committee, have focus on the practicality of Rossford filling that roll. The city's fire and police stations are about a mile down Miami Avenue from the casino site.
Oberdorf expects agreements will be hammered out when the casino is actually built.
Penn National, he said, has a "good neighbor policy" toward its host communities.
At the groundbreaking, the company handed Toledo Mayor Mike Bell a check for $1,038,613 to pay for infrastructure work at the site.
Wilmott said that all the work done on the land, formerly a dumping ground for waste from the Libbey-Owens-Ford glassworks, is the reason the project will be completed sooner.
Wilmott also addressed concerns about the impact on Rossford. Traffic, he said, will mostly flow off I-75, not through downtown.
Some school board members cited concerns about the impact on the casino in the board's decision to build a new high school on Ohio 795 rather than on the current downtown site.
Wilmott said the casino shouldn't affect a school at all, given most of its business is nights and weekends when school is not in session. Rossford senior and junior high are about a mile from the casino; other Penn casinos have schools even closer with no ill effects, he said.
The focus of the ground breaking ceremonies, though, was on the promise of the facility. The money it will bring into the region first during construction and then for operations when it opens.
The construction, with Rudolph/Libbe serving as construction manager, is expected to employ 2,100. The casino will then hire 1,200 employees to operate the casino. The company is promising 90 percent of those jobs will go to residents of the metropolitan Toledo area.
Bell said this will mean these workers "will be able to spend money in our community. That's so important."
Pete Gerken, the president of the Lucas County Commission, called the casino "a game changer."
It is as important, he said, as the opening of the Jeep plant in Toledo or the arena in downtown.
Wilmott told those gathered that: "If you listen carefully, you can hear the sucking sound of business coming back from Detroit."
Last Updated on Friday, 13 August 2010 10:03