Pennsylvania - State Sen. Dominic Pileggi was getting
a haircut recently in Chester when his barber asked what
has been a lingering question there: "Is that track
really going to happen?"
related the story to a crowd of about 100 people, including
state and local politicians and officials, yesterday seeking
to answer that query once and for all.
those hurdles have been overcome, and we're here today
to mark this important point in time in Chester's economic
development," Pileggi said at a formal groundbreaking
ceremony for Harrah's Chester Casino and Racetrack. Pileggi
was formerly the city's Republican mayor.
for the complex call for a harness racetrack, a 1,500-seat
grandstand and simulcast facility, a 2,500-slot casino,
and a variety of food and beverage outlets. There are
also plans for a buffet, 24-hour restaurant, lounge, and
300-seat clubhouse dining area, according to Harrah's.
everything but gold-lined sidewalks, Harrah's Entertainment,
which is putting up $250 million for half-interest in
the project, also presented a $500,000 check to the Delaware
County Workforce Investment Board. The money is to be
used in part to prepare Chester residents to fill hundreds
of jobs at the track and other businesses expected to
has proven to be a powerful catalyst for economic growth
for communities that need it most," said Gary Loveman,
Harrah's chief executive officer. "We look forward
to becoming an active member of the Chester community."
officials said the track in Chester would create about
400 construction jobs and 900 full-time positions. The
figures are less than initial estimates in part because
of computerized gaming cards that would reduce the number
of workers needed to make change for gamblers, track officials
state's new gaming law, enacted in July, legalized up
to 61,000 slot machines at 14 locations, including racetracks,
potentially making Pennsylvania the nation's biggest slot-machine
market outside of Nevada. The state Supreme Court still
has to decide, however, whether it agrees with a pending
challenge that says the law's passage was unconstitutional.
Chester project, where land is cleared for construction
to start, has been granted a license to operate a harness
track, but its gaming license is still pending. Harrah's
officials said they expect a temporary license to be approved
later this year or early in 2006. Racing is scheduled
to begin at the track in June 2006.
three businessmen who formed Chester Downs and Marina
and presented the initial plan for a track at the old
Sun Shipbuilding site along the Delaware River are 50
percent partners with Harrah's. The plan was met with
skepticism that the poverty-stricken city could draw the
crowds needed to make the venue viable.
In Chester, 25 percent of households were living in poverty
in 2000, compared with 11 percent across the state, according
to the U.S. Census.
believed this could happen here," Gov. Rendell told
the crowd. "But the three partners of Chester Downs,
15 miles north, various outlets are vying for the two
slots parlors that were authorized for Philadelphia. Rendell
has promised job creation across the state.
going to be job creation for the right people," Rendell
the crowd, Chester native Tina Johnson asked Rendell what
he meant by "the right people."
did not answer her directly. He instead suggested she
contact the state's Gaming Control Board.