City politics will not influence a Davenport-owned casino, according to city administrator Craig Malin.|
During a presentation to the Davenport City Council Wednesday, Mr. Malin said he has assured members of the Riverboat Development Authority -- holders of the state-issued casino license in Davenport -- of the integrity of a city-appointed board to direct operations of a proposed land-based, city-owned casino.
The Davenport Community Improvement Corp., which would oversee operations at the proposed city-owned casino, is "wholly dedicated to the task of optimizing the market opportunity of a land-based casino," he said.
In November, aldermen approved Mayor Bill Gluba's seven appointments to the DCIC, including Mr. Malin, Davenport Police Chief Frank Donchez, Ald. Jeff Justin, 3rd Ward, RDA President Mary Ellen Chamberlin, RDA board member Christine Frederick and two community members.
City officials plan to pay the Isle of Capri $46 million to acquire Rhythm City Casino and move it to an undetermined location. Both the RDA and the Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission must approve the proposal.
Mr. Malin told aldermen Wednesday that city officials have had "very good" discussions with RDA and IRGC members. According to Mr. Malin, he and city staff have addressed 30 questions by RDA members,including the IRGC's perception of Davenport's control over the casino.
The RDA board meets at 4 p.m. Friday.
"Individual IRGC commissioners have expressed concern that the casino not be controlled by the city," Mr. Malin wrote. "The city shares this concern and has structured the DCIC to not be controlled by the city."
Mr. Malin also noted there were advantages and disadvantages to both interstate and downtown casino locations.
"In concept, a downtown location may leverage existing infrastructure, including hotels and parking ramps and existing assets which may be directly connected to a casino, including the RiverCenter, Adler Theater and RME (River Music Experience)," he wrote.
Supplemental assets -- such as the Figge, the Freight House, Modern Woodmen Park, downtown businesses, riverfront parks and festivals -- could provide a destination experience beyond what is readily available on the interstate, he wrote.
Mr. Malin also said there is more traffic downtown than on Interstate 80, and more total travel lanes in and out of downtown "than will ever occur on I-80."
"The disadvantages of downtown are that the traffic is typcially more local in orientation than on I-80," he wrote, "and urban redevelopment is generally more challenging, and space constrained, than greenfield development." He also citedparking as a potential problem.
Developers have until Dec. 20 to submit proposals for a city-owned casino project. Mr. Malin said city officials hope to interview candidates on Jan. 3 and 4.
He also said the city plans to update the IRGC at its Jan. 10 meeting.
After the meeting, RDA treasurer Don Decker, who opposes a downtown casino, again said project requests are skewed toward such a location. He supports a casino off I-80 and notes that Davenporthas agreed to pay Isle of Capri $5 million more if a new city-owned casino is built anywhere other than downtown.
"So you're telling the big hitters, 'By the way, if you want to put this (casino) on I-80, you're going to have to pay an extra $5 million'," Mr. Decker said.
Mayor Gluba said the city's goal is to keep as much revenue as possible within the community.
"We don't want to lose sight of that goal," he said.
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