The question isn’t if a casino is going to built in Columbus. The constitutional amendment we passed in November guarantees that one will.
The question now is where.
Issue 2 on the May 5th ballot will determine if the casino is going to be built in the Arena District downtown – as is now written into the Ohio constitution – or on a brown field site that used to be an auto parts manufacturing plant. A yes vote on Issue 2 would allow the Constitution to be changed to move the site.
Penn National, the company that will be building the casino, owns both parcels of land and, from what I understand, would prefer to build on the original plot downtown. But after facing a great deal of grassroots, business and political pressure to accept a new site, Penn has reluctantly agreed to the move assuming voters approve Issue 2 next month.
As I’ve said many times before, and unlike most other bloggers in Ohio, I supported bringing casino gambling in Ohio. And I actually don’t have a problem with the Arena District site. However, a lot of people have a lot of good reasons for wanting to see the site moved and nearly everyone is supporting the move including local business leaders, the Columbus City Council and the Mayor.
According to the PD even the Ohio AFL-CIO supports the move as well as most of the members of the General Assembly. The proposed amendment won “approval in both the Republican-run state Senate (31-2) and the Democrat-run Ohio House (71-26).”
The only people who don’t support the move are those who oppose bringing any casinos to Ohio. They feel that in opposing this move they will end up causing Penn National extra headaches and hassles that could delay construction of the casino – possibly indefinitely.
But this isn’t going to happen.
Penn National owns both parcels of land and it’s going to build a casino on one of them.
The question is simply whether the casino gets built on a huge brown field site in a struggling neighborhood that could really use a boost. Or near downtown in the booming arena district. Either way, the casino is going to get built.
Penn National obviously wants to build downtown to take advantage of the benefits years of investment have brought to the area. Not only does the Arena District provide a new business access to the tons of people who frequent the existing restaurants, bars and other attractions in the area but it also is quite close to the downtown hotels and convention center.
I think most people in Columbus would agree, however, that it’s in the city’s best interest if the site is moved.
So whether you want to screw Penn National or you want to do what’s best for the City of Columbus, your choice should be the same: Vote Yes on Issue 2.