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Kohut: Bridgeport’s Survival = Casino, Get On The Bus To Hartford

March 2nd, 2017 · 25 Comments · Development and Zoning, News and Events

Bridgeport policy wonk Jeff Kohut, 2011 mayoral candidate, has experienced a change of heart. Once opposed to a casino for the city, he writes, “There is real hope for Bridgeport in casino development. Let’s go for it! When do the buses leave for Hartford?”

Bridgeport’s transportation prerogatives (including ownership of a square mile of airport-designated land), expansive, undeveloped waterfront (and square miles of other versatile, available commercial spaces, in the context of our ideal, Eastern Seaboard/NY-Metro market-access location, make Bridgeport an unrivaled development opportunity for just about any business sector, including/especially casino gambling.

That Bridgeport languishes is just more evidence of the political and economic chains and shackles used by down-county, moneyed interests to retain Bridgeport labor and land assets for the maintenance of the down-county suburban lifestyle and municipal tax base growth. As long as Bridgeport can be exploited and socioeconomically isolated, the real power in the state can maintain the status quo and avoid the huge expenses and lifestyle disruptions involved with accommodating economic competition from Bridgeport. (E.g., they don’t have to accommodate more westbound, “through” traffic with highway/rail/local road expansion, and they don’t have to accommodate local workforce housing/schools/services/infrastructure, etc. Their workforce presently commutes down-county from Bridgeport in the AM and back to Bridgeport in the PM. No fuss, no muss, if you live in the Stamford area. Works out very efficiently for you if you’re a Greenwich taxpayer.)

Now Bridgeport, being socially, politically, and economically hobbled (intentionally) can’t lift the yoke of oppression without help. The moneyed interests aren’t going to free their Golden Goose voluntarily. But, if there were big money, gambling-industry/casino money, to tilt the balance of power in Bridgeport’s favor, things could change for the better in Bridgeport.

While I have resisted the efforts to bring a casino to Bridgeport in the past, I have come to realize any social evils/dangers that a Bridgeport casino might entail already exist in their most pernicious form as a consequence of the inexorable, decades-long process of poverty-defined socioeconomic decay that has brought Bridgeport to the point of no return.

Upon examining the present condition of Bridgeport as a lifelong resident who has witnessed the decades-long descent and near-death of this city, I must conclude there is no social problem or danger that casino money will bring to Bridgeport that doesn’t already exist in its most pernicious form per the cultivation of such problems and dangers in the fertile fields of decades of spreading, ever-deepening poverty in this city. Furthermore, there is no social problem or danger that a casino will exacerbate in Bridgeport inasmuch as any improvement in the Bridgeport economy, from any source, can have only a positive ripple effect in a city where opportunity is presently defined in terms of dangerous criminal activity or in the context of migration.

Bridgeport needs tens of $billions in new development and tens of thousands of local, living-wage jobs as a primary goal of this development. At this developing inflection point in the historical view of our municipal saga, the nature and source of our indicated economic catalyst hardly matters. What matters is it comes and it comes quickly, and in a big way. If it doesn’t come now, we’re likely “dead.” For Bridgeport, the casino issue is a “choice” where there is only one option. Metaphorically, in this regard we might ask ourselves do we drink the brackish water or do we just let our kidneys shut down and welcome death?

Gambling industry/casino money can “set us free” so we can develop our huge assets and prosper again. It can provide the catalyst for economic growth over all sectors. No one else is knocking on Bridgeport’s door as we struggle with our political/economic shackles as we near political/socioeconomic death. We have no time left and only one option. Let’s take it and run with it! (Indeed, if we do a little analysis and planning and think things through in terms of a real, long-term vision for the city, we might be able to negotiate major, indicated transportation-infrastructure improvements (etc.) that will facilitate multi-sector development, but underwritten by the gambling industry/casino interests (e.g.; harbor dredging/port development for ocean-going ships; airport/heliport development; rail-spur creation, etc).

While I would rather see GE and Apple and Boeing bring Bridgeport back on a massive scale, we all know that is not going to happen under the auspices of Hartford or Washington, given the present economic conditions/political trajectories of Connecticut and the United States, respectively. At the present time, and for the foreseeable future, Bridgeport has one realistic option. We are in desperation mode and can no longer pretend otherwise. There is real hope for Bridgeport in casino development. Let’s go for it!

When do the buses leave for Hartford?!

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25 Comments so far ↓

  • Stringfellow

    I do not know what changed Mr. Kohut’s mind but looking at the closure of some casinos in New Jersey, a casino here may go the same way. The economy has not improved much where people would have the disposable income to support it. The jai alai and dog track are long gone. Not that Mr. Kohut or Rosario are wrong but there has to be something better for Bridgeport that would thrive despite what the economy is doing. It would be nice to see an aerospace or a major computer company come to Bridgeport.

    An Amazon warehouse, wind turbine or solar cell manufacturing factory.

    • Andrew C Fardy

      Amazon is building a 1,000,000 SQFT warehouse just outside new Haven. Sorry, I can’t remember the town.

    • Hector A. Diaz

      Some “great” minds thought a camping/gun store was what was needed in Bridgeport. Bridgeport has always (until the last 10 years or so) been the go-to place for arts and entertainment. A casino is the epitome of both and in my opinion would rocket us into being once again the strongest City in Connecticut.

  • Jimfox

    Hey Joe, wake up!!!

    MGM, which is building a $950 million casino and entertainment complex in Springfield, commissioned the report.
    The report compared three scenarios: No additional casinos in Connecticut; a casino with an investment of $553 million in the Hartford area; and a casino with an investment of $1 billion in the Bridgeport area.
    For comparison, the study assumed the Connecticut tribes would operate the new casino. A larger investment was studied for the Bridgeport area because that is what the market could bear.
    The models showed that the Bridgeport area plan would generate 5,734 jobs more than doing nothing, and that the Hartford area plan would generate 2,080 jobs. That includes jobs at the casinos as well as those created when additional money is spent in the local economy.
    The report found that the existing Mohegan Sun and Foxwoods casinos would contribute $173 million annually to state coffers by 2019 under the state’s 25 percent share of casino slots revenue agreement. The figure assumes that no new casinos would be opened.
    A casino in the Hartford area would bump up proceeds to the state by $16 million a year, while a Bridgeport area casino would add $70 million.

    The release of the report comes a week after a bill was introduced in the legislature calling for a more in-depth study of the gaming industry in Connecticut.
    Rep. Chris Perone, D-Norwalk, said the state needs to further examine how a third casino would preserve jobs and revenue and whether other areas of the state should get more consideration. He said there has been no thorough examination of the state’s gaming industry since Mohegan Sun, operated by the Mohegan Tribe, and Foxwoods, run by the Mashantucket Pequots, opened in the 1990s.
    The tribes, which formed a joint venture last year, have made north central Connecticut their priority for a third casino to dilute the competitive muscle of Springfield and are considering sites in East Hartford, Hartford and Windsor Locks.
    The tribes still must get final approval from the legislature. They have indicated they might not seek it until next year.
    Andrew Doba, a spokesman for the tribal joint venture known as “MM4CT,” said the report’s conclusion was predictable.
    “It should surprise exactly no one that an MGM funded study finds the best place to put a new casino is as far away as possible from MGM Springfield,” Doba said. “Our goal today is the same as it was when we started this process last year — to make sure that Connecticut jobs don’t migrate over the border to Massachusetts.”
    MGM has already filed a lawsuit challenging the state law, enacted last year, that has allowed the tribal operators of Foxwoods and Mohegan Sun to join together to search for a location in north central Connecticut for a third “satellite” casino. The casino would be the first off tribal lands and the first commercial venture.
    MGM’s lawsuit charges that the state unfairly excluded other potential operators and allowed the Pequots and Mohegans to operate both on their reservation and in a commercial venture.
    Last year, the Mohegans and the Mashantucket Pequots commissioned two studies that examined the impact of new casinos planned in Massachusetts and New York. If three casinos were built, one report said they would save 7,083 or 9,300 jobs. A single casino in Greater Hartford — the option settled upon by the tribes — would save 4,285 jobs, a little less than half of the projected losses.
    Oxford Economics said its analysis also looked into how jobs and revenue would be eroded by a third casino, regardless of whether it was located in north central or southwestern Connecticut.
    MGM said the studies by the Mashantucket Pequots and Mohegans did not consider the benefits of a sole casino in southwestern Connecticut.
    “The bottom-line question is where does Connecticut get its best deal?” said Alan Feldman, MGM’s executive vice president. “The more comprehensive the study, the more clear the answer becomes. It is not the Hartford region. Southwest Connecticut offers a market that brings more jobs, more revenue and more opportunity for economic growth.”
    Courant staff writer Dan Haar contributed to this story.

  • Grin Ripper

    As usual, Andrew Doba’s comments are a real Hardy-Har-Haar!

  • DC Faber

    Jeff makes a compelling case. Bridgeport has the space. The bad stuff associated with casinos is already here. We are in a budgetary purgatory. Hartford can’t help us and the power brokers of Fairfield County don’t want Bridgeport to get help. Maybe a casino could put some power back in the hands of the city and help Bridgeport help itself. It is worth thinking about.

  • Grin Ripper

    Thirty years ago we told Little League to go back to Williamsport. We now have an opportunity for a second bite of the apple. Let’s roll the dice! I’m sick of Bridgeport crapping out.

  • Bob Walsh

    Thank you, Grin Ripper.
    Unfortunately, this is a study paid for by MGM Grand. But they don’t care. They just want to wait, and wait, and wait until it’s too late.
    The longer it takes the better; or bitter whatever the case may be.
    Thirty years ago the Little League wanted to build a regional facility at 90 acres. They were not looking at replacing Williamsport so don’t confuse the issue more.
    Just answer me this. Who is going to make good on all these promise if the whole thing fails to come together?
    MGM because their study was wrong???
    The two Indian casinos because they didn’t move fast enough?
    The casino industry because it took three years to make up our mind and by then nobody wanted in?
    Too many questions and no answers.

  • Grin Ripper

    Bubba Grump!
    You’re a shill for the Tribes!!! How about you fully disclosing your relationship? How about a transparent and open process for all? Furthermore, your addition by subtraction formula Little League is an error.

  • Andrew C Fardy

    When jai alai came to Bridgeport the city had to have people count the patrons going in and close it down when it reached capacity. Well after a few years it was so empty you wondered where everyone went. The same thing will happen again if the casino comes. We had room for the Amazon Warehouse, did we look into the bidding process? NO. Have we talked to Tesla about coming to Bpt? NO. This fucking city, its politicians and most people who live here refuse to get out of the past.

  • charlie

    There is a public hearing Thursday at 8:30am in Hartford. If anybody is really interested they should show up and testify. There is expected to be an overflow. There is a bill that would open commercial gaming. If you want Bridgeport, show up and speak up.

  • Bob Walsh

    Now Grin Ripper is a constitutional authority on Indian Casinos. I guess he’s got the jones bad.
    Can’t be bothered with taking a bus to Windsor or Eastern CT. It’s Bridgeport or nowhere.

    • Grin Ripper

      Bubba Grump–Once the Tribes go off the reservations, they no longer have the protection of the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act. You’re such a Trailblazer, maybe we could put it in Branford? Will your company be getting a retail location in Yeast Windsor? That would help make your dough rise! How!

  • Jeff Kohut

    Bridgeport is the only city with the extensive, available waterfront and extant and potential multi-modal transportation opportunities that could open up and accommodate a huge gambling market. We have an airport that can be developed; we have a harbor that could potentially bring in ocean-going cruise ships, et al., loaded with gamblers; we have miles and miles of available waterfront (we have the capacity to develop dockside gambling); we can develop rail spurs/shuttles to accommodate train-using gamblers; we can develop a helicopter shuttle system to serve a wide radius of airport locations. Bridgeport gambling by sea, air, and rail. No one else on the NY-Boston corridor has the land and transportation capacity to accommodate casinos and the huge gambling market waiting to be tapped that can compare with/compete with Bridgeport. We have one option, and it’s a very probable, big winner. We need to go with it or just resign ourselves to sinking deeper and deeper into a $#@% hole. We’re already at neck level.

  • Jeff Kohut

    I I, Ripper!

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