Plan Would Put Casino On Proposed 'Sportsplex' Site

August 07, 2009|By a Baltimore Sun reporter

A Maryland developer would abandon plans to build a $250 million sports themed office and recreation park called Gateway South, and Baltimore's only slots casino would be constructed on the land instead if city and state officials approve the change.

The Baltimore Development Corp. is drafting a memorandum of understanding that gives control of an 11-acre, city-owned parcel south of M&T Bank Stadium, to Baltimore City Entertainment Group, one of four bidders for slot machine licenses in Maryland and the only group seeking to build a slots facility in downtown.

The new casino parcel is bounded by Russell, Bayard, Alluvian and Warner streets. It's roughly three times larger than a city-owned tract at Warner and Stockholm streets where BCEG had been planning to build its casino.

The city awarded the Russell Street site in 2006 to a group headed by Cormony Development and Baltimore Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis, after that group proposed to build 600,000 square feet of office space and a massive "sportsplex" with indoor and outdoor fields, a health club, retail space and a new Greyhound bus terminal.

According to First Deputy Mayor Andrew B. Frank, BCEG approached Cormony about taking over its land and shifting its casino there, and Cormony agreed to bow out. Frank said BCEG would assume Cormony's financial obligations to the city for the cost of preparing for the Gateway South project, a figure of about $13.25 million. Samuel Polakoff, Cormony's president, could not be reached.

Frank said the mayor's office supports the change in locations for the slots facility because the city stands to receive a share of its proceeds, and the Russell Street site is "far superior" to the smaller Stockholm Street parcel for a gaming facility.

Before the change in locations becomes official, it must be approved by the state's Video Lottery Facility Location Commission and the City's Board of Estimates. BCEG is seeking to open its facility by Dec. 31, 2010, making it the first of four facilities to open in Maryland.

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