MGM pitches Toronto casino project that would include circus, fine dining
Published Tuesday, January 22, 2013 3:08PM EST
Last Updated Tuesday, January 22, 2013 7:35PM EST
MGM, one of the world’s largest gaming companies, has proposed a casino resort project for Toronto that it claims will attract one million tourists a year who would spend $1 billion in related industries.
MGM Resorts CEO Jim Murren presented the proposed project in front of a full house at the Economic Club of Canada Tuesday.
Murren said the resort would not be your typical run-of-the-mill casino.
“We would build an urban destination resort, not a limited function standalone box casino. We have no interest in that,” he said.
The plan includes a partnership with Cirque du Soleil, which would be the “centrepiece” of the resort, Murren said.
As well, local chef Mark McEwan – owner and chef at several high-profile Toronto restaurants-- would help the resort create a “world-class dining experience.”
McEwan said working with MGM would be an extraordinary opportunity.
“They’ve always brought amazing restaurants to them, great chefs and great operators. So the challenge will be to live up to that,” McEwan said.
While the revenue estimates of a Toronto casino have varied, Murren said MGM’s proposed resort would attract a million visitors a year from outside Ontario, who would spend $1 billion in related spinoff industries outside the casino.
The planned casino would create thousands of “good-paying jobs,” he said, adding that the jobs would start at around $60,000 a year with benefits.
He also said the integrated resort would create a number of cross-marketing relationships with other local Toronto businesses.
A report released by the city manager in November said Toronto could see as much as $27 million generated annually from a gaming complex in property taxes alone. A standalone casino could generate up to $10 million.
MGM would invest $2 to $4 billion into the project to start, should city council approve a casino and it be awarded to MGM.
Murren said that Exhibition Place would be the best location for a casino and the casino could help revitalize the adjacent Ontario Place entertainment complex. He added that traffic flow would be redirected to preserve heritage buildings and transit infrastructure and the Ex would continue to host the CNE and the Honda Indy.
MGM’s announcement comes in the midst of public consultations on a proposed casino for the city. The consultations will end on Friday and council will vote on the issue in April.
Murren said the company wouldn’t do “anything that people don’t want us to do,” and added that the city is an ideal place to expand.
Few cities in North America have similar levels of investment as Toronto, he said. The city’s tourism, relatively high income levels and available space are also bonuses.
However, he cautioned that if city council does not approve the casino the company will look to expand elsewhere in Ontario.
"If city council votes it down, no harm, no foul,” Murren said.
Other locations being considered for a casino include the Port Lands, a downtown location and the Woodbine Racetrack.
With a report from CTV Toronto’s Natalie Johnson