Cadillac-Fairview, MGM team up for casino resort bid
Published Thursday, January 31, 2013 1:09PM EST
Last Updated Thursday, January 31, 2013 1:11PM EST
A Canadian commercial real estate giant is joining forces with one of the world's leading resort brands in hopes of developing a casino complex within the Greater Toronto Area.
In an announcement Thursday, Cadillac Fairview Corporation Ltd. and MGM Resorts International said they would be going 50-50 on a bid to develop, build and operate a "destination-style" MGM-branded resort somewhere in the city.
The preliminary plans for the project call for a casino in addition to retail, hotel and conference facilities, as well as a permanent Cirque Du Soleil show and a partnership with local celebrity chef Mark McEwan.
"Cadillac Fairview recognized the enormous benefits that can accrue to the city of Toronto from an integrated resort and we're proud to partner with MGM Resorts to develop this exciting project," Cadillac Fairview President and CEO John Sullivan said in a press release announcing the joint-venture.
"We look forward to working with city officials and community stakeholders in support of Council's decision on the optimal site for an integrated resort, and to maximize its benefits to the city through a fair and competitive process," he said.
On a visit to Toronto during which he pitched his company's plans to the Economic Club of Canada last week, MGM Resorts Chairman and CEO Jim Murren said that such a facility would attract a million visitors a year.
They'd spend $1 billion in the city, he said.
According to a report released by the Toronto city manager Joe Pennachetti in November, a gaming complex could contribute up to $27 million through property taxes alone, while a standalone casino could generate as much as $10 million.
Based on three potential resort locations -- the Metro Toronto Convention Centre, Exhibition Place and the Portlands -- Pennachetti's report estimated the city's profit from leasing or selling the land to build it could total $250 million, with another $32- to $168 million in yearly hosting fees.
The government of Ontario opened the door to the possibility of a new casino resort somewhere in the province last year, when Finance Minister Dwight Duncan and Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation head Paul Godfrey announced plans to generate an additional $1.3 billion in annual revenue by means of a privately-built casino.
Project needs municipal approval
Public consultations on whether or not to allow a casino in Toronto wrapped up last week. City council is expected to put the issue to a vote in April.
During his visit to the city, Murren said his company hoped to build a facility at Exhibition Place. But if city council votes against bringing a casino to Toronto, he said MGM would simply look to develop a site elsewhere in the province.
Premier-designate Kathleen Wynne made it clear on Thursday, however, that she's no fan of expanding gambling opportunities anywhere in Ontario.
"I'm not a fan of casinos. I'm not a fan of gambling. And they are here and municipalities have to weigh the pros and cons and they have to make a decision for themselves about whether they want a casino or not," she said.
A number of other casino resort companies are nevertheless vying for the chance to set up shop, including the Toronto-based Oxford Properties Group that has several Canadian Fairmont luxury hotels among its holdings.