Ravenstahl, Isle of Capri discuss casino bid, keeping Penguins in city
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Isle of Capri Casinos Inc. officials met with Pittsburgh Mayor Luke Ravenstahl yesterday, only days after he urged the Penguins to commit to "Plan B" funding for a new arena, an alternative to the Isle's own $290 million pledge for that project.
Mr. Ravenstahl said afterward that he still supports Isle of Capri's bid for the Pittsburgh slot machine casino, but added he had made it clear during the meeting that his main goal is to keep the Penguins in Pittsburgh.
He said that's the reason he has urged the team to endorse Plan B, Gov. Ed Rendell's alternative plan for funding an arena. That plan relies on pledges of $7.5 million a year for 30 years from Forest City Enterprises and PITG Gaming, the Isle of Capri's competitors for the Pittsburgh license, as well as $7 million a year from a slots-backed state fund and $4 million a year from the team.
In a letter to the Penguins Friday, Mr. Ravenstahl asked the team to commit to staying here and to Plan B.
"We need to acknowledge that there is a Plan B in the event Isle of Capri is not successful," he said after yesterday's meeting.
Mr. Ravenstahl, who had endorsed the Isle of Capri proposal as City Council president, said the only time Plan B was specifically mentioned in the meeting was when he reiterated his goal to keep the Penguins in town.
He said the focus of the session was on the Isle of Capri proposal, which includes $290 million for the arena, plus more than $400 million in mixed use development at the site of Mellon Arena and a $450 million casino, all to be built in the lower Hill District and Uptown area.
Allan Solomon, Isle of Capri executive vice president, said the meeting was the first opportunity for casino officials to sit down with the new mayor since the Sept. 1 death of Mayor Bob O'Connor. He would not comment on what was discussed involving Plan B or anything else.
"Don't forget this Plan B has nothing to do with us. I mean we have this huge plan," he said. "We have a plan that can regenerate and rejuvenate Downtown Pittsburgh, not only for what we're doing but all the feed off."
He added, "The mayor has been a good supporter of ours and we brought him up to date on what we've been doing."
Others attending the session included Penguins consultant David Morehouse and attorney William R. Taxay.
Mr. Ravenstahl said he also intends to meet with representatives from Forest City and PITG Gaming in the near future.
Forest City is teaming with Harrah's Entertainment on a proposed $512 million casino at Station Square. Besides its commitment to Plan B, its proposal includes a 1,200-unit residential development on the east side of Station Square and a 200-room expansion of the Sheraton Station Square Hotel.
PITG Gaming is proposing a $410 million to $425 million casino and a $400 million plus lower Hill redevelopment, similar to that pitched by Isle of Capri, in addition to its Plan B commitment.
First Published September 20, 2006 12:00 am