SIOUX CITY, Iowa (AP) — Hundreds of people expressed opinions about four different plans for a land-based casino in the Sioux City area on Tuesday, speaking for nearly three hours at a public hearing to state regulators tasked with approving a gambling license.
More than 350 people gathered in a ballroom in downtown Sioux City before the Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission. The five-member commission listened to impassioned pleas from residents supporting the various options.
“I had an idea there would be great support in Sioux City, and there is,” commissioner Kristine Kramer said.
The commission's chairman, Jeff Lamberti, said hearing from the community helps.
“Obviously, there is a lot of passion for all of these applications. I'm not sure it made (the decision) any easier, though. It probably made it harder. They're all fabulous proposals.”
Panel members had earlier toured the four proposed sites and met with developers vying for a gambling license in Woodbury County. A final decision will be made in April.
Penn National Gaming Co., which operates the Argosy Sioux City riverboat, submitted two proposals for a Hollywood Casino. Its proposal for a casino on 40 acres on the southern edge of the city was the first visit of the day.
“It could not be easier to pull off the Interstate onto the casino property,” said Linda Cox, the mayor of Salix, which is near the site.
The rural location has a $167 million price tag and would include a 150-room hotel.
The commission's remaining visits were in downtown Sioux City. Sioux City Entertainment first showed off the historic Battery Building, where it wants to build a Hard Rock Hotel & Casino. An estimated 500 supporters of the $118.5 million project greeted the commission.
“I think this is a great building that can be transformed into a fantastic entertainment destination,” said Bill Warner, who heads the Hard Rock proposal.
Ho-Chunk Inc. developers behind the Warrior Casino & Hotel then gave their presentation for a $122 million project slated for the Davidson Building and Warrior Hotel. The presentation at a nearby theater included a replica blackjack table and video explaining their accessibility to Interstate 29.
“It's going to really stand out and be an iconic structure,” said Ho-Chunk CEO Lance Morgan about 1930s-era building.
The commission's final visit was with Penn officials again, this time at the second proposed site in the 700-800 block of Gordon Drive. The $160 million project would require several buildings to be demolished.
“Our proposal will not force people to drive to or through busy downtown traffic,” said Lance George, general manager of the Argosy Sioux City riverboat.
Penn operates the riverboat casino, which state regulators decided to replace with a land-based casino.