Cedar Rapids casino advocates release plans for $250 million proposal

Backers of a revitalized casino proposal in Cedar Rapids have unveiled their plans for a multimillion-dollar facility.
Published: May. 29, 2022 at 3:28 PM CDT
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CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (KCRG) - Backers of a revitalized casino proposal in Cedar Rapids have unveiled their plans for a multimillion-dollar facility on the south side of the Cedar River.

The Linn County Gaming Association, Cedar Rapids Development Group, and Peninsula Pacific Entertainment released the $250 million plan for Cedar Crossing. The facility, occupying a piece of land across the river from Quaker Oats. The plan calls for a facility with bars, restaurants, a “foodertainment” venue with local PGA golfer Zach Johnson’s name attached to it, and a 1,500-seat event center.

“Cedar Crossing is going to be a cornerstone of revitalization efforts in Cedar Rapids,” Cedar Rapids Mayor Tiffany O’Donnell said, in a statement. “This team has set the vision and has been leading the charge longer than anyone else – they live here and know our community, and they have been thoughtful in their approach to build the partnerships they need to build a world-class gaming and entertainment destination. Cedar Rapidians deserve that.”

Advocates touted the potential for job creation and revenue generation that the casino could bring to Linn County. They pledged to commit 8% of net gaming revenue in funding toward local nonprofits, which they said would contribute an estimated $5 to $7 million per year.

“From the beginning, we’ve said a Linn County casino will help our communities be more vibrant places to live,” Anne Parmley, LCGA president, said, in a statement. “We believe we can do more and be more – and the $5 to $7 million dollars in annual net gaming revenue that we can commit to funding local nonprofits is our way to show our commitment to lifting Linn County as a better place to live, work and visit.”

Peninsula Pacific Entertainment previously developed the Diamond Jo Casino in Dubuque, Diamond Jo Casino in Worth County, and the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Sioux City.

The state commission rejected proposals for a casino in Linn County in 2014 and 2017. Supporters of a local casino have said that expanded gambling in the state and new commission membership means that the same thing may not occur with a future proposal.

The Iowa Legislature passed a bill that would institute a two-year moratorium on new gaming licenses, which could delay any opportunity for the interested parties in Linn County to apply for a license until June 2024. Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds has not yet signed the bill into law.

Voters in Linn County kept hopes for a casino alive in a referendum vote in November 2021, which passed with 55% approval. The vote did not approve a specific casino plan. Instead, it would allow the Cedar Rapids Development Group and other organizers to put together another plan to submit to the Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission sometime in the future.

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