Not too long ago, we retold some of Philadelphia’s casino history as we explored the latest proposal for 1401 S. Columbus Blvd., also known as the original site of the unrealized Philadelphia Foxwoods Casino. Please allow us to provide another lesson today.
As we said previously, Foxwoods officially fell through in 2010, though the lawsuits continued for years after that. For awhile, it was an open question as to whether the Foxwoods casino license would remain in Philadelphia or whether it might move to another location in PA. In 2012, the State made the determination that Philadelphia would be keeping its second casino license, and this kicked off a competition for the license which resulted in multiple proposals for the second casino location in the City of Brotherly Love.
Had things gone a little differently, we might be talking about a new casino at 8th & Market or on North Broad Street – but instead, the PA Gaming Board selected a proposal from Cordish Companies and Greenwood Gaming to build a new casino at 10th & Packer, the site of a Holiday Inn Hotel. After some more lawsuits and a couple years of construction, Live! Casino Hotel opened its doors in the last couple weeks. We didn’t go inside because we don’t feel terribly safe being inside anywhere let alone in a casino, but we did snag some exterior images to give you a sense of what you’ll see the next time you go to a Phillies game. Hopefully that’ll be sometime this year.
When Sugarhouse opened in 2010, the operators made the decision to start small and grow the facility over time. Though the casino has gone through a couple expansions (and a rebranding) over the years, we still don’t know when or if the planned hotel or expanded event space will come to fruition. At Live!, it’s a different approach, as the facility appears to be fully baked from the get go. The casino includes 2,100 slot machines, 150 table games, a sports book, a 208-room hotel, and an event space that can accommodate a thousand people. In case you can’t tell, the old Holiday Inn was fully demoed and replaced by a new tower that looks like it’s roughly the same height, just in a different location on the site. Sure, it looks a little Vegas-y, but to be honest we were hoping for something even flashier, given the lack of other tall buildings in the area and the prominent view from I-95.
Speaking of the location, this site was pretty much our recommendation back in the summer of 2012, when we noted the numerous advantages of a casino near the stadiums. Those advantages include highway access, proximity to public transportation, a buffer from nearby residences, and synergies with the stadiums in terms of attracting out of town guests. We also mentioned that ocean of parking lots, the proximity of the highway, and the regulations in the Special Services District would greatly reduce the potential for nuisance businesses to open up nearby.
You can certainly make the argument that casinos are problematic and that you don’t want them in Philadelphia. As we said previously, we were just as happy to have the closest gambling halls operate an hour away in Atlantic City. But given that Philadelphia has a pair of casinos, we’re generally pleased with where they ended up. And now that both are open, we look forward to their neighbors and the city as a whole reaping the financial benefits of having them here, which is the whole reason that we are remotely interested in having them here in the first place.