SCHENECTADY At last, the Schenectady casino plans will be unveiled.
At 11 a.m. today, community leaders, politicians and developers will gather at Proctors’ GE Theatre for a presentation on the casino.
Several politicians and leaders said they had already seen a presentation of the plans weeks ago. The details persuaded them to support the casino, they said.
But they all said they were sworn to secrecy until today.
In fact, many said they could not even use the word “casino” in describing the reason for today’s news conference. But, they whispered, it involved the riverfront. It involved developer David Buicko. It involved the only part of his riverfront development that he had not yet made public.
Despite Buicko’s efforts to keep the details quiet, some have leaked out over the past few weeks.
It is projected to be 200,000 square feet and to include a parking garage, according to a roughed-out plan Buicko released himself.
Proctors CEO Philip Morris said he was in talks with the casino developer and was sure entertainment there wouldn’t put Schenectady’s theater out of business.
He said the casino would include a smaller venue than the Proctors main stage and would not compete directly by booking Broadway shows or even large concerts.
The casino developer might even have Proctors run the casino venue, Morris said.
Likewise, some restaurant owners said they had been assured that the casino would not compete directly with them, instead offering a buffet or a second venue for them to rent. Some said there was talk of running a regular trolley from the casino to downtown.
Metroplex Development Authority Chairman Ray Gillen said the developer would also make promises to hire city residents at “good” wages — which would be above minimum wage, even for “floor” jobs, which include operating the casino games.
But until the state announced its required minimum investment for a Capital Region casino, Buicko said the developer would not unveil any plans.
There were fears that the minimum would be too high for the developer — an amount so high that the developer would doubt that the casino could make a profit.
But the minimum turned out to be $182.25 million, which local developers said would make it well worth it to open a Schenectady casino.
The next step in the process is to gain public approval. The state will grant only four licenses, throughout three regions, and public support is a requirement.
If the Schenectady proposal gets support — and half the City Council was uneasy about it two weeks ago — the developer could proceed with applying for a license.
It would be a competitive process. Among others, the Saratoga Casino and Raceway has partnered with the owners of Churchill Downs in Kentucky and has proposed a $300 million casino in East Greenbush. The owners of Howe Caverns in Cobleskill are also in the running, arguing that their cavern would add to the entertainment draw for a casino.