Friday, May 04, 2007

RiverCenter Casino?

I've been hearing rumors about Isle of Capri's possible interest in the RiverCenter for a while now, but it was always prefaced with "This isn't for the blog..." Anyway, now that Craig Malin was on TV a few days back mentioning this exact possibility, and a couple newspaper articles were written about it, I'm going to consider it public knowledge.

Rhythm City is rumored to be looking into moving their operation into one of the halves of the RiverCenter, and either renovating the Blackhawk or building a new hotel. This would keep them downtown and allow the project to be used as the local matching funds to get the CAT grant for redeveloping LeClaire Park.
As always, there are pros and cons to the idea.


  • Gets the casino off of the riverfront and keeps it downtown
  • Takes the money-losing RiverCenter off the city's hands
  • Possibly renovates the Blackhawk back to former glory
  • Instead of working to attract more conventions, we give up
  • Smaller auto show, pool tournament, Festival of Trees, etc
  • Can IOC preserve the Blackhawk as it should be?
One of the big issues for me would be which side (North or South) of the RiverCenter. The older half on the north side of 3rd Street is directly adjacent to the Blackhawk, which would allow IOC to renovate that and have their casino in close proximity. That side is also looking a little more dated than the newer, southern half. A new hotel tower and/or parking garage could also be built in the vast parking lot that currently surrounds the Blackhawk. Unfortunately, I'm hearing more about them looking at the newer half. In one of the news articles discussing this, the green space on 2nd Street across from Majors was also mentioned. I suppose this could be a site for a new hotel as well.

At first I was completely against giving up any of the RiverCenter, because I believe its a fairly short-sighted thing to do. If Davenport starts growing more like some of us think its about to, my generation could end up building a new RiverCenter-type convention hall 10 or 20 years down the line, and wishing we hadn't turned half of our old one into a casino. Currently though, only a few events per year actually use both halves of the RiverCenter, so maybe losing half wouldn't be as big of a deal. Unfortunately, I believe that IOC has proven their complete inability to take care of the historic Blackhawk Hotel, and I really don't trust them to maintain its historic integrity. I'd still like to see a new hotel tower built, and the Blackhawk turned into a 100+ room convention hotel maintaining the Gold Room with apartments/condos on the top floors, just as the city was already planning to do. Or, I'd still be fine with my previously-suggested plan to build a hotel/waterpark/casino on the parking lot surrounding the Blackhawk.

What do you folks think? (And also, will what people think matter?)


Anonymous said...

Regarding the IOC's care of the Blackhawk - I'm not sure it's fair to use their past performance there to judge their future intentions.

They never really wanted to inherit that old hotel in dire need of revamping. It was always going to be a temporary measure.

However, if they have to incorporate it into their new, land-based gaming area, they likely will invest more to make it nice. Granted, their hotels in Bettendorf are ugly from the outside, but they are actually very nice on the inside.

Also, there's a possibility that one of the previous developers who expressed interest in the Blackhawk would still be involved in the project -either as partners with IOC or by converting some portion of the hotel into residential.

Snarky Chick said...

I also heard a rumor they were planning to buy up and bulldoze/build new the entire block where bucktown is. You can never be sure if you're getting a line of bull or the real deal until you hear it from another source.

pioneer98 said...

I thought one key factor in in all this was that having more hotel rooms attached/in proximity to the River Center would allow it to attract larger conventions. You always hear that it doesn't have the rooms to support large conventions right now. I really hope if this happens that somehow we at least end up with the same amount of convention space, whether it is the current space or space in a new building.

hoganj300 said...

It sounds is looking at all options possible, with an emphasis of being next to convention space. I mean its even been rumored that they could be partnering with or buying the Raddison. I really don't care too much where they locate on the RiverCenter/Black Hawk property, as long as there ends up with the same amount and more convention space. I would still prefer they locate on the Black Hawk property. It would be an nice additon to have an waterpark and the creation of some retail shopping like they do in Las Vegas as I have mentioned before.

Anonymous said...

IOC is building their convention center in Bettendorf. No need for two in close proximity.

QuadCityImages said...

Last I heard, they haven't exactly started on the Bettendorf one. Maybe they're changing their mind.

Anonymous said...

Hopefully they are realizing the casino market is saturated in this region. Yes the casinos are still making money, but they have to work a little to do it.

Just happy the IOC seems to be not so confident about their development plans, and what they can shine on to the cities.

Thank you Moline for not pursuing a casino in the past.

Anonymous said...

QCI: I thought you were a bog fan of the casino hotel. Now all of the sudden you don't trust them?

You are pulling Bill LYnn on us.

freda said...

They've finished their hotel expansion in Bettendorf, and have a development agreement with the City who is building the convention center. It's a lot further along than the Davenport convention center, wherever and whatever that might be.

QuadCityImages said...

I was never a "big fan" of the riverfront hotel. I was a big hater of the current setup, and IOC was offering something that I felt was better, or at least less bad. I would be a "big fan" of them building a new high rise hotel near the Blackhawk, without taking over the RiverCenter. The problem with my dream plan was that the casino would have to be multi-level, and I suspect they want all the gaming action on one floor. That seems to be how its done lately.

Anonymous said...

Last time I checked the IOC meeting space is just that meeting space. Conventions need 'big box' like spaces instead of large banquet rooms. Have you been to McCormick Place in Chicago? Also convention centers are designed to be a loss leader (as we have been told every time a new set of aldermen complain about it). McCormick has not only a piece of the hotel tax but also an added restaurant tax on top of the cut they get from taxi rides from OHare.
I believe it has been said several times (each time that people want to raize or convert the River Center) that they need more hotel rooms to get the conventions or more floor space to get the car shows.
If the casino does take over the operations of the River Center how long will it take for people to complain that hte grant money is being poured into the running of the convention center.
One good thing is that the casino couldn't run the center as cheap as it looks like its being run now.

freda said...

I've been to McCormick Place, and the Las Vegas Convention Center, and a host of others. Davenport (and the Quad Cities) is not Chicago or Las Vegas - we're about 50,000 hotel rooms and 2,000 taxi cabs short. We have 5,000 hotel rooms in the entire Quad Cities. We can accommodate small conventions of 5,000 people if we use every hotel room in the Quad Cities and shuttle buses, since we don't have sufficient public transport or taxi service that would serve even a moderate-size convention. Most conventions don't want their attendees spread out over multiple hotels because logistics become a nightmare and much more expensive, so the size of a Downtown Davenport convention site would be dictated by the number of hotel rooms Downtown or in close proximity.