Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Underdogs in Bid for Casino Boat Go on Offensive

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Underdogs in Bid for Casino Boat Go on Offensive

Article excerpt

Backers of a runner-up plan for a downtown riverfront casino said Tuesday they are confident of gaining support in the Board of Aldermen after the board has a chance to see their proposal.

The runner-up, Monarch Casino & Resort Inc. of Reno, Nev., has invited the aldermen to lunch Friday to pitch its plan. Monarch's proposal would be the first detailed explanation the aldermen see.

The city's lease negotiations with St. Louis Entertainment Venture, the top-ranked proposal, are incomplete.

Monarch has hired a local public relations firm and former alderman Jack Garvey to lobby for its plan. Garvey said Monarch wanted to make sure the aldermen understood its plan before they vote.

"My feeling is that, once everyone sees this, it can't be denied," Garvey said. "Their approach to the aldermen will be very direct, aboveboard and out in the open."

In May, a special selection committee ranked Monarch second to the proposal of St. Louis Entertainment Venture. City development officials have twice missed self-imposed deadlines for submitting a lease with Entertainment Venture to the aldermen. They now say the proposed lease will be ready Oct. 6.

In an interview Tuesday, Monarch officials said their $175 million plan offered the most benefits for the city because it would be a resort and not simply a casino.

The proposal calls for a centerpiece complex of a 900-room hotel, a tournament bowling stadium and a family entertainment complex featuring a virtual reality dome theater. The stadium and complex would sit on a 4,000-vehicle garage.

Elevated people movers would connect those buildings to floating casinos and an amphitheater to the east and to the convention center and Trans World Dome to the west.

Monarch officials say they want no city subsidy, tax abatement or tax-increment financing.

They say they expect to fill the hotel primarily with guests who bowl and gamble. They said their hotel would not be the city's dream convention hotel but could accommodate some convention visitors. They noted that the people movers also would connect the 300-room Embassy Suites hotel to the convention center. …

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