Harrah's Presents Pittsburgh Proposal
Forest City Enterprises and Harrah's Entertainment, Inc. today presented
their plan for investing more than $1 billion at Station Square to the
Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board during public hearings held in Pittsburgh.
The two industry leaders reiterated their commitment and ability to generate
the most revenues for the state, Allegheny County, City of Pittsburgh, and
Pittsburgh School District. The plan includes substantial new investment in
support of a revitalized downtown Pittsburgh, a $512 million casino, a
community partnership with the Pittsburgh History & Landmarks Foundation,
and the creation of a new charitable foundation headed by Franco Harris.
"We're excited about the tremendous potential of bringing the Harrah's brand
to western Pennsylvania's premier tourist destination," said Charles Atwood,
chief financial officer of Harrah's Entertainment. "We plan to create a
first-class gaming, retail, and dining experience, one that we believe, when
combined with our industry-leading customer loyalty program, will complement
and expand Pittsburgh's tourism industry."
Brian Ratner, director of Forest City Enterprises outlined the group's
support of the multi-purpose arena financing plan: "We are looking forward
to the opportunity to work with the government to execute a plan to
construct a new arena. We believe the Arena Funding Plan offered by Governor
Rendell, Executive Onorato and Mayor O'Connor is a great approach to
financing a new multi-purpose Arena." Ratner continued, "Once the Penguins
commit to staying in Pittsburgh as an integral part of the community, the
Harrah's Station Square team welcomes the opportunity to finalize the terms
of our participation."
The plan expands Station Square into a bustling, new, urban mixed-use
residential and entertainment community. This will include ground-floor
retail, sidewalk dining and cafe eateries, a 400,000-square-foot, $512
million Harrah's Station Square Casino with 3,000 slots, an additional 200
rooms at the adjacent 400-room Sheraton Station Square Hotel, and 1,250
residential condominium units. All of these new elements will be connected
by pedestrian scaled streets, creating a neighborhood look and feel. The
residential units will have porches and stoops, accompanied by new parks and
a riverside esplanade offering improved river access. With more than 50
acres at Station Square, the plan also allows for future expansion of the
casino to 5,000 slots and the creation of a new hotel tower with 300-500
"Harrah's Entertainment is committed to creating compelling gaming
entertainment experiences in the markets in which we operate," Atwood said.
"This translates into the greatest economic impact for the City of
Pittsburgh and the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania: More jobs, greater property
and wage tax relief, and more opportunities for local businesses."
Jesse Fife, Jr., Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer, spoke
in support of the Harrah's Station Square proposal, explaining the role his
institution will play should the license be awarded to the group.
"Our organization is deeply committed to the future of this region and we
entered into a partnership with Harrah's Station Square because we realized
their plan offers a unique opportunity to create a diverse workforce
development program and good paying jobs in this region. Bidwell will serve
as the training ground for many of the projected employees that Harrah's
will need to sustain a successful casino in Pittsburgh," Fife said. "As we
evaluated this partnership, it became clear to us that Harrah's Station
Square is the applicant that has the capacity to create the most jobs for
our region. Their human resources, employment track record and commitment to
diversity is unparalleled in the industry and has become the benchmark for
every other player in the casino industry. Equally important, Harrah's is a
company that understands how to create opportunities for inner city,
Brian Ratner, director of Forest City Enterprises, outlined the findings of
a transportation impact study conducted by nationally recognized
transportation engineering firm DKS Associates, and Pittsburgh's GAI
Consultants. "Station Square is uniquely positioned to absorb the enhanced
visitation a casino will bring from a transportation standpoint. Its
location on the west side of Station Square allows for the best integration
into the overall site and offers the only location that benefits from all
modes of transportation - interstate highway, river, light rail, bus,
pedestrian and incline," Ratner said. "We also will tap an interstate system
that will take traffic off of Carson Street, the Smithfield Street Bridge
and the downtown area. When combined with the assets already in place at
Station Square and Bessemer court and the additional retail that will be
developed, this development will create a 'spine line' or Main Street
concept that will connect a dynamic multi-purpose, mixed use Station Square
and a vibrant, walkable community."
Forest City and Harrah's also reviewed their significant philanthropic
commitment to Pittsburgh, both now and in the long-term, that will be
realized should they secure the license to develop a casino, as follows:
- The Forest City/Harrah's development proposal will enable the Pittsburgh
History and Landmarks Foundation to establish an endowment of $25 million.
Proceeds to the Pittsburgh History and Landmarks Foundation will be invested
with its existing funds and used to support and expand programs to
revitalize inner city neighborhoods.
- In addition, the Forest City/Harrah's development proposal will give a
total of more than $1 million a year through a foundation to support the
community. Half of the funds must be used in neighborhoods with a 60 percent
or higher minority population. Franco Harris will lead the effort to give
these funds back to the community. This money will be made available as soon
as the license is secured.