Riverfront Casinos: What Are We Waiting For? . Septenber 2001

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Riverfront Casinos: What Are We Waiting For?

By Howard Berenbon

It's been almost two years now, and Detroit happily has three prospering temporary casinos with lots of new restaurants and patrons.  Unfortunately, what happened to the completely new Las Vegas-style casinos with attached hotels that were proposed for the riverfront?  We've been waiting and waiting and waiting.  The problem is a controversy over who's going to make the money from the now highly desirable riverfront property.  Initially, the plan was to build all three permanent casinos on the riverfront near the Renaissance Center.  To add to the mayhem, many Detroiters would rather see the casinos stay where they are, at their temporary locations.  However, Detroit's Major Dennis Archer has offered a plan allow one casino on the riverfront, MGM Grand Detroit.  To my dismay, this latest proposal is going nowhere fast.

Delays in building the permanent casinos can hurt Detroit's chances at attracting some of the high profile conventions to Cobo Convention Center.  That will mean lost revenues for Detroit.  It's true, we have our three casinos, but all but one, Greektown Casino, is located in an area where it could stay, and for some very important reasons.  Greektown is an established Detroit landmark where people from all over the area visit.  It has several excellent restaurants and a hotel, the Atheneum Suite Hotel, across from casino, so visitors can walk a few steps from their hotel to gamble, and then a few more steps to the local restaurants.  Greektown is also a stop on the People Mover route, which loops around to the major downtown hotels including the Pontchartrain and the Marriott Detroit Renaissance Center.  Unfortunately, the other two casinos don't have the benefit of the best hotels and downtown Detroit restaurants just steps away.  MotorCity Casino is far from downtown and not near any major hotel.  Out of town visitors must taxi to and from their hotels.  MGM Grand Detroit has just about the same problem, although they are downtown, but not very close to the major hotels, and they are not near the People Mover. Both MotorCity and MGM Grand have their own fine restaurants and the best Las Vegas-style buffets with feasts you'll never forget, but you won't have a complete gambling experience if you can't walk from your hotel to a nearby casino.  If you've been to Las Vegas, you'll know what I mean.

Come on Detroit; let's get our act together and build one or two casinos on the riverfront.  If you can't manage that task, then build them all in a row on Jefferson near the riverfront.  But do it now and do it fast before the major casino investors like MGM Grand and Mandalay Resort Group (MotorCity Casino) decide that they made a mistake on Detroit and cut their losses.

Howard Berenbon