US – Cedar Rapids launches plans for $250m for Iowa casinoBy Phil - 1 June 2022
The Cedar Rapids Development Group (CRDG) and the Linn County Gaming Association (LCGA) have officially unveiled their plans for a new casino in Cedar Rapids.
The proposed casino, called Cedar Crossing, would cost around $250m. The casino will include a 160,000 square-foot complex. The proposed facility would have bars, restaurants, a 1,500 capacity center for events, and other centers named after famous Cedar Rapids natives like pro-golfer Zach Johnson
“Cedar Crossing is going to be a cornerstone of revitalization efforts in Cedar Rapids,” Cedar Rapids Mayor Tiffany O’Donnell said. “This team has set the vision and has been leading the charge longer than anyone else – they live here and know our community, and they have been thoughtful in their approach to build the partnerships they need to build a world-class gaming and entertainment destination. Cedar Rapidians deserve that.”
The proposed location for the facility is along the west side of the Cedar River between Kingston Village and Time Check Park. It is the old Cooper’s Mill site along the Cedar River. The developers said the new facility would help revitalize the area and add flood protection infrastructure for the area.
Sen. Robby Smith, R-Scott County, added an amendment to HF2497 Monday afternoon that caps the total number of casino licenses at 19 until 2024. There are currently 19 casinos in Iowa.
“We know the time is now for Cedar Crossing. Linn County residents want gaming, and we’re the ones who will bring it to them,” Peninsula Pacific Entertainment (P2E) President Jonathan Swain said. “Linn County has been patient. The moratorium only changes when we can break ground – it does not change our commitment to building the world-class destination that we have promised and is worthy of their expectations.”
If granted a license, Cedar Crossing is anticipating to give 8% of its annual revenue to local non-profits. While Iowa law mandates that regulated licensed casinos set aside a minimum percentage of revenue to fund nonprofit organizations, the developers said they believe it is the highest in the state.
“From the beginning, we’ve said a Linn County casino will help our communities be more vibrant places to live,” said Linn County Gaming Association President Anne Parmley said. “We believe we can do more and be more – and the $5 to $7m dollars in annual net gaming revenue that we can commit to funding local nonprofits is our way to show our commitment to lifting Linn County as a better place to live, work and visit.”
Linn County voters have approved a gaming referendum twice, once in 2013 and once last fall, to show their support for bringing a casino to the area. The measure passed with 54.69% approval in November.
The Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission has denied a handful of requests for a casino in the county since 2013, but with this public support, the city and developers had been hoping to try again.
On Monday afternoon, Mayor O’Donnell told KWWL the IRCG was going to issue a recommendation for the project one way or another on June 2, just 10 days away.
“We had a better chance than we ever had to get a casino –and there’s a part of me that thinks others knew that too– and they were willing to stop at nothing to stop Cedar Rapids from getting a casino,” O’Donnell said.
Two groups presented feasibility studies to the IRGC in January, showing a variety of effects.
The Innovation Group forecasted that Linn County getting a casino would cost other casinos in the state $61 million in the coming years, with $43m of that coming from casinos in the “east central” part of the state. The group also said Linn County getting a casino would increase the overall gaming revenue in the state by $51 million.
P2E has also developed casinos in Dubuque, Sioux City, and across the country.
“Our plans show that Cedar Crossing will raise the bar and set a new standard for gaming and entertainment in Iowa,” Swain said. “We now have a new target date for when we can finally move these plans forward.”