Friday, September 23 2022

CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (KCRG) — Proponents of a revitalized casino proposal in Cedar Rapids have unveiled plans for a multimillion-dollar facility on the south bank of the Cedar River.

The Linn County Gaming Association, Cedar Rapids Development Group and Peninsula Pacific Entertainment released the $250 million plan for Cedar Crossing. The facility, occupying land across the river from Quaker Oats. The plan calls for a facility with bars, restaurants, a “foodie entertainment” venue with the name of local PGA golfer Zach Johnson, and a 1,500-person event center.

“Cedar Crossing is going to be the cornerstone of Cedar Rapids’ revitalization efforts,” Cedar Rapids Mayor Tiffany O’Donnell said in a statement. “This team has set the vision and led the charge longer than anyone – they live here and know our community, and they’ve been thoughtful in their approach to establishing the partnerships they need to build a gaming and entertainment destination of world class Cedar Rapidians deserve it.

Proponents touted the job-creating and revenue-generating potential the casino could bring to Linn County. They have pledged to dedicate 8% of net gaming revenue to fund local nonprofits, which they believe will contribute between $5 million and $7 million per year.

“From the beginning, we have said that a Linn County Casino would help our communities be more vibrant places to live,” LCGA President Anne Parmley said in a statement. “We believe we can do more and be more – and the $5-7 million in annual net gaming revenue we can commit to fund local nonprofits is our way of showing our commitment to making the county from Linn a better place to live, work and visit.

Peninsula Pacific Entertainment previously developed Diamond Jo Casino in Dubuque, Diamond Jo Casino in Worth County and Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Sioux City.

The state commission rejected casino proposals in Linn County in 2014 and 2017. Proponents of a local casino said the expansion of gambling in the state and new commission membership means the same thing might not happen with a future proposal.

The Iowa Legislature has passed a bill that would place a two-year moratorium on new gambling licenses, which could delay any ability for Linn County interested parties to apply for a license until June 2024. Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds has yet to sign the bill.

Linn County voters held out hope for a casino in a November 2021 referendum vote that was 55% approved. The vote did not approve a specific casino plan. Instead, it would allow the Cedar Rapids Development Group and other organizers to come up with another plan to submit to the Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission in the future.

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