Vancouver’s Edgewater casino edging to relocation

Friday, May 18th, 2012

Paragon Gaming president may announce new home in August

Bob Mackin
Van. Courier

Paragon Gaming’s president hopes to announce a new home for Edgewater Casino by Aug. 1.

Scott Menke wouldn’t say how the scope of a proposed hotel and casino complex evolved since city council rejected expanding the licence from 600 to 1,500 slot machines in April 2011.

Last December, city council rezoned the site west of B.C. Place Stadium for the $450 million project, but Menke said other locations are under consideration.

“Until we confirm a site it’s premature to talk about what the project is,” Menke told the Courier. “We’re really under a lot of confidence levels with everybody in government and partners and we’d love to tell you more at the appropriate time.”A source said B.C. Pavilion Corporation negotiations with Paragon are progressing and an announcement is nearing, while B.C. Place management is preparing for a development permit board application and a fall groundbreaking. The project would impact operations of the stadium’s west entry and could force removal of the video board that faces the Cambie Bridge.

PavCo chief executive Warren Buckley and stadium general manager Howard Crosley did not respond for comment. Menke did not dispute the information.

“Unfortunately I can’t talk about it,” said Menke. “But I hope your sources are right.”

Menke said financing problems at the company’s River Cree Casino near Edmonton would not affect Edgewater operations or the relocation because the entities are separate. Paragon defaulted on a $111 million loan in mid-April after the Alberta government stopped payments from the First Nations Development Fund. Menke said “the business has been uninterrupted at every level.”

“We’ve made great progress over the past couple of weeks,” he said. “It’s certainly been easier for us to get to government after the elections. We’re very confident we’ll see a positive resolution in the not too distant future.”

Meanwhile, the total cost of the budgeted $563 million stadium renovation remains a mystery. A spreadsheet provided by PavCo under Freedom of Information showed $490.04 million was spent by December. Expenditures for January through March were censored. Additional costs, which are not visible, include resolution costs with Telus, claims resolution and project work requiring better weather in spring 2012.

Telus offered $35 million to $40 million in cash and goods and services to buy naming rights for 20 years. The deal was scrapped by the provincial government in February, after Telus installed telecommunications equipment last summer and fall. Telus spokesman Shawn Hall said the company continues to negotiate for exclusive supplier status.

PavCo was named as a defendant in a $6.5 million lawsuit filed by French cable supplier Freyssinet against steel contractor Canam last October. Canam countersued for $26.15 million. A B.C. Supreme Court trial is scheduled in fall 2013. In March, a judge heard that grease damage to the roof fabric from the cables could cost $10 million to fix. PavCo claimed cleanup would be $1 million and the responsibility of contractors.

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