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‘It’s Funded, Shovel-Ready,’ Pitching Bridgeport As An MGM Star, Waterfront Casino Proposed

September 19th, 2017 · 32 Comments · Analysis and Comment, City Budget, Development and Zoning, News and Events, State Politics

MGM Bridgeport header

Declaring MGM Bridgeport can be “a major economic force, a top-tier entertainment resort, and an essential contributor to this community,” MGM Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Jim Murren, a Bridgeport native, on Monday shared details of a $675 million waterfront resort for the East End creating thousands of construction and permanent jobs, a guarantee $8 million annually to the city as the host community in addition to millions more from real estate and personal property and building permits. MGM Resorts International is partnering with the RCI Group, developers of Steelpointe Harbor, to build a casino on the old Carpenter Technology site on Seaview Avenue. The proposal seeks no public subsidy. See website here. A major battle looms in state legislature for approval.

The proposal requires state legislative support because of a gaming monopoly the state granted Connecticut’s two tribal nations in exchange for 25 percent of the slot take, a number MGM officials assert is dwindling with a promise of more revenue to the state including an up-front $50 million licensing fee upon a green light. MGM has given state officials swimming in red ink something to think about as legislators try to settle on a state budget. MGM pegs its revenue stream to the state at more than $300 million annually.

Noting the state’s bleak fiscal picture and the battle ahead in the state legislature with the tribal nations that run Mohegan Sun and Foxwoods protecting their turf, Murren added “this project can help to turn the economic tide of this state. We just need the political commitment to make it happen.” MGM says the community benefits include:
– More than 7,000 new jobs in the Bridgeport area
– $50 million in license fees paid to the State of Connecticut in fiscal year 2018
– >$8 million in annual payments to Bridgeport (as host city, in addition to taxes payments)
– $4.5 million in annual payments to surrounding communities
– More than $600 million in new private investment; 100% privately financed construction
– $430 Million in new labor income

Murren Bridgeport

MGM CEO Jim Murren

And right out of the box Bridgeport received the blessing for this project from New Haven officials including Mayor Toni Harp, sitting next to Mayor Joe Ganim at the news announcement. New Haven will host MGM’s work force development and training center extending the economic impact to the Elm City. Embracing the proposal Harp told the gathering overlooking Yellow Mill Channel and the harbor, with a nod to her former peers in the state legislature, “Don’t shoot ourselves in the foot.”

Harp Bridgeport

New Haven Mayor Toni Harp

Several members of Bridgeport’s state legislative delegation attended including State Senator Ed Gomes, a retired union organizer, who worked for more than a decade at Carpenter Technology.

What makes this proposal different than other casinos swelling around Connecticut? Murren and MGM official Uri Clinton argue proximity, a New York and Fairfield County market, waterfront views and amenities like no other casino in the state. “We are the market leader,” said Murren. “We are doing as well today as 15 years ago.”

Murren also spoke on a personal level about his roots in the city where his dad owned a saloon on State Street. His mother resides in the city’s North End. “We’re the right developer, the right time, the right place.”

MGM Bridgeport calls for 2,000 slot machines, 160 table games, a 700-seat theater, 300-room hotel, retail and multiple dining options.

Ganim MGM

Mayor Joe Ganim addresses crowd

“The focus is rightly on the thousands of jobs that will be created, on the economic impact that will be felt by families, by the community, and by residents all across this state,” said Robert Christoph Sr., Chairman of The RCI Group, developer of Steelpointe Harbor. “That impact should not be underestimated, and cannot be overstated. What we have developed with MGM is, in so many ways, a blueprint for progress for Bridgeport and for Connecticut.”

“The last time someone came in with a promise of 7,000 good paying jobs, which included jobs for the residents of Bridgeport, was never. We’d be crazy not to pass this deal,” said Bob Proto, Vice President Unite Here International, who joined officials at the announcement as well as members of the Building Trades and Carpenters Union.

MGM union support

Union support at announcement

Clinton said if the proposal is approved it will take 30 months to complete the project. “It’s funded and shovel-ready,” he said.

Bridgeport officials noted the building permits alone would amount to roughly $7 million.

Ganim, in his remarks, thanked Murren jestfully for the “$18 million” annually coming to the city. Whether $18 million materializes is unclear, but certainly a number that will aid the city’s always-challenging budgets.

Video of news conference courtesy of Steve Krauchick, Doing It Local.

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32 Comments so far ↓

  • Jeff Kohut

    Now is the time to get a special act passed in the legislature granting open casino-development rights in Bridgeport by way of an amendment to the Indian casino legislation… Let the deep pockets of MGM argue in court against the special Indian “reservation rights” and special “East Windsor Indian-rights amendment,” which, together, constitute unconstitutional, anti-trust legislation enacted by a special act of a dumb-ass legislature (with the more-recent legislation supported by the dumbest asses in the whole legislature — the Bridgeport delegation — with the notable exceptions of Reps. Santiago and Rosario…).

    Let’s have at it and get this thing going and the money moving into Bridgeport municipal coffers!… It can’t happen too soon in this collapsing state…

    • The Bridgeport Kid

      The last thing the city of Bridgeport needs is a goddamned casino. Atlantic City, New Jersey, is a case in point. While the Boardwalk became a mecca for gamblers  Jersey gaming officials couldn’t keep Nicodemo Scarfo and other gangsters from practicing the mafia’s traditional stock in trade  (loansharking, extortion, etc.). At the same time the parts if the city outside the Boardwalk fell into dusrepair. Violence, street crime, poverty and neglect became entrenched. 

      MGM officials din’t give a rat’s ass about the people if the city of Brudgeport. They just want cheap real estate and a tax abatement. None if the casino profits will naje into yhe city’s economy. 6000 permanent jobs, eh? That’s a lot if porters, chambermaids and burger flippers.

  • Jimfox

    Sen. Gomes will sell us down the Yellow Mill River!

  • Andrew C Fardy

    The last time there was a vote on the casino what were the results?

  • Andrew C Fardy

    Ganim chased the bluefish out of Bridgeport to have an open area for bullshit concerts. Allegedly we are getting a casino that states they will have professional entertainment so what gives. BTW the bluefish are having a new ballpark built at their new location.

  • Robert Teixeira

    Ganim not only chased out the Bluefish he chased out all 30 fans that showed up to watch them play. SMH.

    http://onlyinbridgeport.com/wordpress/ganim-focuses-on-brighter-side-of-trump-presidency/

  • Donald Day

    DB,I know a lot of people that will take those chamber maid, porter and burger flipping jobs in a heart beat. Mohegan Sun employees earn $36,000 annually on average, or $17 per hour, which is 52% lower than the national salary average of $61,000 per year. According to data, the highest paying job at Mohegan Sun is a Shift Manager at $49,000 annually while the lowest paying job at Mohegan Sun is a Cashier at $18,000 annually.

    There are a lot of young people that would clammer for those jobs because they want a job and they can go to and from work via the bus line. I don’t think our State legislature give a damn about Bridgeport and they have showed that disdain time and time again.

    • The Bridgeport Kid

      Jobs is jobs. I know many will take them. But how much of MGM’s profits will make it into the lcal economy? How much of it will go toward repairing this broken city? Joe Ganim and other public office holders would have us believe a casino will cure all of the city’s ills, cure them as if a magic wand was passed over. 

      Job creation is all well and good but some problems have been left to moulder for decades. The Department of Education can’t fully function for all the infighting on the BOE. The abandoned factories and industrial contamination is causing health problems for city residents. On top of that those properties cannot be properly taxed because of abatements. Any attempt to force the property owners to clean up the pollution results in protracted legal battles as the responsible parties do everything to avoid civil and criminal responsibility.

  • Stringfellow

    MGM took this fight to court and lost so what has changed?

    Please come up with another idea to bring jobs to Bridgeport.

    Jobs that pay better than minimum wage, have long term employment, advancement and benefits.

  • THE PUNISHER

    So does this mean that new development will be on hold in Steel Point till this is run its course. How long will it take before we know if this can become reality. We don’t need this to take years in court. We have been down this road before!!!!

  • DC Faber

    So long as the numbers are good and all things are above board this strikes me as a good thing. It will create jobs building the place, it will be a clean bright business on the waterfront. It will have shops, restaurants, gambling and entertainment (could this create an issue for the harbor yard and the yet to be build concert hall?). It would create a draw to Bridgeport which could help build up other businesses. A casino will not cure all of Bridgeport’s problems, not even close. That will take an active and informed city council and a Mayor who wants to be mayor and has a vision to bring Bridgeport into the 21st century. The MGM could give the city a well needed shot in the arm and be the landmark Bass can never be.

  • Donald Day

    Let me preface my remarks by saying there isn’t a chance in hell that the tribal nations, the state legislature or that piece of governor will allow a casino to be built in Bridgeport. Its been about 25 years since the city of Bridgeport took and tore down a plethora of homes and took them off the tax rolls and nothing substantial has been put in their place.

    This casino will not be the answer to all of Bridgeport’s problems, but it’s a step in the right direction and its a helleva lot better than a fish and tackle shop and a Mexican restaurant. Not gonna happen, but its one helleva pipe dream.

  • flubadub

    One issue with a casino is that everything is self contained. There will be little spill over effect to surrounding neighborhood. Local merchants should not expect casino customers to venture outside for food & beverage or other shopping. That’s what was sold to Atlantic City merchants to get their buy-in for the referendum which gave approval to gambling. After it passed they were shut out.

  • Frank Gyure

    Initial comments from State Legislators creates doubt if this will fly. State Senate Majority Leader Bob Duff(Norwalk;Democrat) is against it. State Senator Tony Hwang(Fairfield/Republican) vows to fight it. Ironically,this has received some lukewarm support from some of the Republican Candidates for Connecticut Governor/Election November 2018.

  • The Bridgeport Kid

    The casino will never happen. Even Malloy is against it.

    Casinos attract many ancilliary businesses, some, like pawn shops, are legal. Others, like loan sharks, bookmakers and prostitution rings, are not.

    Casinos generate a LOT of money. None of it gets into the community, not even through the GOP “trickle down” economic theory. If MGM actually builds a casino and hotel in Bridgeport there will still be families living on EBT benefits, there will still be gangs dealing drugs and firearms out of the city’s housing projects, there will still be shootings. None of that will be changed by a casino.

    The Amazon proposal would have an immediate positive impacvt on the greater Bridgeport community. Employees will have the financial resouces to buy houses, automobiles and other big-ticket items, and invest in the city.

    • Frank Gyure

      The chances of Amazon are even less than the MGM casino/proposa/. Amazon wants their second headquarters to be within a one million population center with a lot of millenials who are up to date and are actually looking at and going beyond the parameters of standard “commerce.” That workforce does not exist in the southwest CT area.

  • Local Eyes

    Introducing a casino to a city with Bridgeport’s specific characteristics would be a mistake. However, it meets all the population requirements stipulated in the RFP.
    Casinos are an overcrowded, sunset industry. Internet retail-especially the kind practiced by Amazon-is a sunrise industry and offers hope for the entire region while making Bridgeport great again.
    Run away from the casino but chase Amazon.
    Amazon’s HQ2 is fully funded and shovel-ready, too.

  • Ron Mackey

    Let me repeat what Steve Wynn of the Mirage Resorts said here in Bridgeport back in November 13, 1992 and great wisdom for today.

    He said the Bridgeport center, on the waterfront immediately off Exit 28 of the turnpike, would provide a “completely self-contained environment that can be safe, that can be well-lit, that allows people to come and go without upsetting residential neighborhoods.” Jobs and Taxes

    He said that he would expect the center to employ 5,000 to 7,000 people and that local residents would have the first opportunity to apply for the jobs. He estimated the center would produce $50 million to $100 million a year in local and state tax revenue.
    He also said bluntly that the casino, by itself, was not going to solve Bridgeport’s economic or social problems.

    “Get it straight,” he said. “I think I know how to bring people to Bridgeport, and keep them coming, but there is no reason on earth for any of you to expect for more than one second that just because there are people here, they’re going to run into your store, or restaurant, or bar.

    “That didn’t happen in Atlantic City,” he said. “It should never have been promised in Atlantic City. It is illogical to expect that people who won’t come to Bridgeport and go to your restaurants or your stores today will go to your restaurants and stores just because we happen to build this building here.”

    • The Bridgeport Kid

      Bridgeport has a reputation as a violent city. There’s a basis in fact. A “self contained” hotel/casino will keep everyone and their money in one area. Mr. Wynn can talk all he wants but he’s inly pewing so much bullshit. Talk is cheap. Without legal obligations to invest in the city, without contract that set aside a percentage of construction jobs for Bridgeport residents the casino will be built by out of tiwn labor.

      The casino will not come to pass at any rate. It all looks good to those who are blinded by the glitz and glamour of flashing lights and card games.

  • Ron Mackey

    Here we go again, the one trick pony that will save Bridgeport and solve all of its problems, a casino. NO WAY. Let me repost what Donald Day wrote.

    Donald Day // Sep 19, 2017 at 10:47 am
    Let me preface my remarks by saying there isn’t a chance in hell that the tribal nations, the state legislature or that piece of governor will allow a casino to be built in Bridgeport.

    • Robert Teixeira

      Ron Including Moore and Gomes. luckily for Bridgeport and the state Dan is not running and there are election coming up.

      let me repost what Donald Day wrote. Donald Day // Sep 19,2017 at 10:47 am

      This casino will not be the answer to all of Bridgeport’s problems, but it’s a step in the right direction and its a helleva lot better than a fish and tackle shop and a Mexican restaurant. Not gonna happen, but its one helleva pipe dream.

      I know a man who had a dream too.
      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3vDWWy4CMhE

      • Robert Teixeira

        What I can’t fully understand is Why does Bridgeport’s State Senators think a casino is a positive development for East Windor but not Bridgeport?

        • Robert Teixeira

          Personally I think any casino developer should have to give Bridgeport 10 street clears and 20 trash vacuum carts and other resources to keep the City clean as part of the deal. Cleanliness is next to Godliness.

  • Bob Halstead

    How about Malloy builds a tramway down the middle of 95, constructs bikeways and makes buses more efficient

    No where is the aparthietic divide between Bridgeport and the surrounding home ruled suburbs than when the casino question comes up

  • Robert Teixeira

    Part of the city’s problem is cash flow, but how and what is allowed to developments is also. Yes nobody really want a rock crushing plant in city, at least in their part of the city. But it’s more than that. I have to give a commendation to Extra Storage. When you drive down 95 you only see buildings, you really don’t know the area or it problems. I’m sure it could have been a lot cheaper to build a building for its needs that doesn’t reflect its needs or usage. That building sticks out like a soar thumb along that part of 95. That what this city needs.

    Bridgeport, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tvtJPs8IDgU

  • Stringfellow

    Atlantic City Casino Hotel, Showboat,Revel, Trump Plaza, and the Taj Mahal are all closed. Based on Fox business casino profits are 44%. Let’s not forget the fact the casinos did not do anything for the areas around it. If these five casinos failed why are they pushing for one casino in Bridgeport? These failures are look into the future of what will happen in Bridgeport.

    Let’s drop this idea all it does is make people angry about the idea.

    The city needs something that will serve the city as a whole and create jobs that people can live on. Jobs with chances for advancement, jobs with benefits and jobs where someone can work for 20 years or so and retire. The city does not need jobs with minimum or a little above minimum wage.

    Amazon starts as low as $ 12.33 to $12.45 they have medical, dental, vision and a 401(k).

    Amazon seems to be the way to go theirs would get approval faster and there would not be too many hurdles to clear to build it in Bridgeport. The only hitch I see would be the traffic this would create. Between the trucks and the three shifts they would have to find an area that would not effect the local daily traffic.

    I have mentioned in another post the Remington property would be the only place this could go. A traffic study would have to be the first thing done to work out an effective traffic pattern.

    That’s my two on this issue.

  • Stringfellow

    The Remington property between Arctic and Barnum Avenue, not the Remington Woods.

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