November 26, 2008

Cordish Conquest

Developer gets nod in Kansas, takes lead in bidding for AC Tropicana

 

It’s not one of the major casino companies--yet--but Baltimore developer Cordish Company last month flexed its muscle in two states. Cordish won a bid in Kansas against big-league opposition and nosed into the lead in Atlantic City as the “stalking horse” candi­date to buy the distressed Tropicana.

 

In Kansas, Wyandotte County will get a Hard Rock Hotel and Casino and additional speedway races, possibly as soon as June 2009, the result of a close vote last month by the Kansas Lottery Gaming Facility Review Board to award the 15-year regional casino concession to Kansas Entertainment.

 

Kansas law authorizes four regional state-owned, pri­vately operated casinos in four different counties.

 

The winning group is a partnership of Kansas Speedway and the Cordish Company. They propose to build a $705 million, 300-room Hard Rock Hotel and Casino with 3,000 slot machines, a convention cen­ter and shopping outlets--all overlooking the Kansas Speedway racetrack.

 

The decision of the board was on a 4-3 vote, with Golden Gaming Inc., of Las Vegas coming in second. Legends Sun, a proposal involving the Mohegan Tribe of Connecticut, garnered no votes. Las Vegas-based Pinnacle Entertainment Inc. withdrew from the process a few days before the vote.

 

To help sweeten the deal, last month Kansas Speedway promised to seek a second NASCAR Sprint Cup race, and to build a second course. It also promised to hold a lucrative recreational vehicle rally annually.

 

Top for Trop

 

In Atlantic City, Cordish was named the lead bidder for the Tropicana Casino & Resort--up for sale since last December--after months of speculation.

 

State-appointed conservator Gary S. Stein last month entered into negotiations with Baltimore-based Cordish Company. Former owner Tropicana Entertainment LLC, a subsidiary of Columbia Sussex Corp., lost its li­cense after less than a year of operation when the New Jersey Casino Control Commission deemed it unfit to run a first-class operation.

The Cordish Company is one of the world’s largest real estate developers, with expertise in gaming, lodging, entertainment and retail. In Atlantic City, it has already invested $49 million to build retail center Atlantic City Outlets--The Walk, in partnership with the state-run Casino Reinvestment Development Authority, and in 2007, the company sought to acquire Trump Entertainment Resorts Inc., which owns three casinos in Atlantic City. Cordish was also responsible for devel­oping the two Seminole Hard Rock Casinos in Florida. And, the company has just recently developed Indiana Live!, a racino connected to Indiana Downs.