TORONTO – As Toronto’s casino debate heats up, MGM and Cadillac Fairview have unveiled their vision for a casino resort on the Canadian National Exhibition grounds.
Their plan includes a casino, a 1200-room hotel, 10 lake-view restaurants, 800 to 900-seat theatre to permanently house Cirque de Soleil, a large shopping centre, 12,000 underground parking spaces. They also plan on sprucing up the trails at Ontario Place.
“The way to fix Ontario Place is to have an economic catalyst which will have tremendous economic spinoff benefits,” Cadillac Fairview VP Wayne Barwise explained.
“The look, the feel, the configuration becomes much newer, much fresher, frankly I think much more inviting,” MGM’S Alan Feldman said.
All of the existing buildings on the Ex grounds would remain along with space for the Midway.
MGM and Cadillac Fairview said they would underwrite the CNE losses related to shutting down the Ex’s already-existing casino.
The plan also includes adding a floor to the Direct Energy Centre to create more convention space.
It would take three years to build the resort and the plan would cost between $3-billion and $4-billion.
Feldman said nothing is fixed in stone. It’s just an example of the potential that exists.
The companies unveiled a website last month to sell their push to build on the city-owned Exhibition grounds.
Las Vegas Sands and Caesar’s Entertainment have also expressed interest in building a casino complex in Toronto. Both companies want to build at the Metro Convention Centre.
The city held public consultations on a proposed casino in January and the city manager is expected to report back on that feedback this month. Council is expected to debate the issue in April.
Mayor Rob Ford has said he approves of a casino and said he’d like to see one built in the Port Lands or at Exhibition Place.
“I don’t know how people can refuse $150-million or $200-million of revenue and 10,000 good-paying jobs. I don’t see how they can say no to that,” he said last month.
“I just wouldn’t want to lose it to Vaughan or Mississauga.”
Toronto’s Board of Health last month reaffirmed its position against building a casino in Toronto.
A Toronto casino was pitched as part of the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation’s (OLG) modernization plan.