Casino will be a boon: Campbell

Sunday, March 28th, 2010

$450-million project will anchor new entertainment hub

Lena Sin

An artist’s rendering of the proposed entertainment complex planned for the property beside B.C. Place Stadium in Vancouver. It will include a 110,000-square-foot, 24-hour casino, two international hotels and five restaurants. Construction on the $450-project is expected to begin in early 2011. — handout

Plans for a new destination casino-hotel complex next to B.C. Place Stadium will transform the area into a new entertainment hub for downtown Vancouver, says Premier Gordon Campbell.

The $450-million project will feature two hotels, five restaurants and a 110,000-square-foot, two-storey casino open 24 hours a day.

The complex is part of an ambitious plan to revitalize B.C. Place, slated for a $565-million renovation, of which $458 million is earmarked for a new, retractable roof.

The complex is expected to spark a lively debate among False Creek residents when it comes before the city for rezoning approval.

Campbell said the massive casino and entertainment complex will boost tourism and provide economic spinoffs, adding that revenues will help offset the cost of replacing the roof at B.C. Place.

“What we’re doing is creating a whole new entertainment complex for British Columbia,” he said.

“And I think what it really does is it will revitalize this part of town. It won’t just be a place that you drive around and drive through.”

The new 680,000-square-foot centre will sit between the west side of B.C. Place and the Cambie Bridge on a one-hectare parcel of vacant land.

The Edgewater Casino, now located at the Plaza of Nations, will be relocated to the new centre, pending rezoning approval.

Paragon Development of Las Vegas, which owns the Edgewater Casino, is the winner of a private-sector bid to build the complex. It has signed a 70-year lease agreement with B.C. Pavilion Corp. (PavCo), the Crown corporation that runs B.C. Place.

PavCo will receive $6 million a year (plus inflation) in lease revenue for the first 10 years, with the price escalating after the first decade.

The lease revenue will partially offset the cost of replacing B.C. Place’s iconic marshmallow roof with a new retractable version.

Campbell said the new centre attached to B.C. Place will create thousands of jobs — an estimated 3,200 direct and 2,220 indirect jobs during construction and another 1,900 direct and 1,300 indirect jobs when the facility opens.

The B.C. government also estimates it will reap $130 million in gaming revenues during the casino’s first year of operation.

The project still requires the city of Vancouver to grant rezoning of the site.

But Vancouver Coun. Geoff Meggs told The Province that even though he expects a vigorous debate about the project, it’s unlikely the city will block it.

Howard Blank, spokesman for Great Canadian Gaming Corp., which owns River Rock Casino in Richmond, said the company welcomes the competition and has no concerns about its market share.

Construction of the project is expected to begin in early 2011 and completed by mid-2013.

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