Time to roll the dice on Block E?

There was renewed talk at the Capitol today about an up-scale casino proposed for Minneapolis’ ailing Block E.

Asked about a Senate bill, GOP deputy majority leader Geoff Michel said he wasn’t ready to talk about it yet, but could have more to say within 48 hours. At least three people familiar with talks about the project say they believe supporters will have a public announcement about the project on Wednesday — neatly dovetailing with Michel’s comments.

GOP Representative Bob Gunther, of Fairmont and chair of the Jobs and Economic Development committee, said he hasn’t seen anything on it yet, although his panel would be a likely early stop for any Block E casino bill.

The casino would actually be in DFL Rep. Bobby Jo Champion’s district.

“I heard that there’s a proposal to do some job creation by a casino being placed in downtown Minneapolis,” Champion said today. “I did have some thoughts, without seeing any legislation, (about) how do we think about our relationship between the state and the tribes.”

He wouldn’t commit, though, to whether he thought it would be a good idea or not.

“Whenever we talk about job creation and things that would be beneficial, I am always open to that, but I don’t like to say if its good or bad without seeing the language,” Champion said. “Conceptually, it sounds like a good idea, but I don’t know. I have an open mind about it.”

And he isn’t the only one thinking about it. Planners of a potential Vikings stadium on the Farmers Market site near Target Field in Minneapolis even slipped in a reference to it in a 64-page study they released today. Herewith:

farmer's market-1.JPG

  • There is nothing upscale about casinos in our day and age. It would bring nothing positive to downtown Minneapolis.

  • Mac

    Any legislator who’s against a state-owned casino is probably getting a lot of campaign cash from the tribes. There is no reason not to support a casino…it would spur development downtown, help the bottom line, create new jobs, and give the tribes some needed competition.

  • Tariq Aziz

    For anyone who has been to block E, you know the criminal element surrounding that place is strangling it. Imagine how ramped up it will be when instead of restaurants and a movie theater, they have a casino near which to sell drugs and sex. It’s like pulling a decaying tooth and replacing it with a tootsie roll. when this gets approved, I will take it as a sign that RT has given upon downtown.

  • Brite

    Casinos rarely bring positive economic development. They are generally associated with a rise in poverty, alcoholism, depression, crime, and domestic violence. Any “job creation” mirrors the income picture in the rest of the country: a few people get rich and everyone else works for mimimum wage in a toxic environment. The last thing Minneapolis needs is to injure itself in this way.

  • Wm. Sweeney

    Block E was a poorly conceived project — and a good example of how governmental bodies oftentimes lack sound economic judgment and oversight ability.

    But regardless of that ‘mess’ in Block E, a greater problem would be created if a casino were built on that site. The social problems which result from gambling far outweigh any initial economic return to the State. Those problems would be magnified by the easy accessibility of a downtown gambling location to those that frequently are drawn to gambling venues — the truly poor and lower income groups. Some people may see a picture of the high end casinos of Las Vegas — I see a picture of the seedy casinos of Vegas, Reno, and Elko — accompanied by the crime that emanates from those kind of activities when concentrated in an urban core.

    It seems to me that our government should look to appeal to the higher nature of our citizenry — not the lowest.

  • John Michaels

    Block E was a terribly planned and operated project from the get go. Now it seems like it is one of the hottest hang-outs for thugs and criminals waiting for the bus. Something needs to be done to turn that area of Minneapolis into the “heart” of the city. We need an entertainment district that works properly and pumps good revenue into the city.

    I am all for a State owned and run casino like the one that is planned at Block E. We NEED the tax revenue and at some high number like $250 million a year and something like 6,000 new jobs it seems silly to say no to.

  • Brian

    I live downtown, about six blocks from Block E and I am all for having an upscale casino here. The reason Block E failed is because it was a mish-mash of venues with no cohesive theme. Gameworks essentially tried to target kids games to adults, Borders was just lousy, the night club (Escape) brought in the “sketchy” partiers, Applebees brought in people who like cheap, junky food, and Hooters brought in… not enough money to pay rent and taxes.

    By having one, large, upscale casino in there, you target one audience in a very cohesive fashion. Yeah, some people won’t like it and won’t go there, but I think it will draw in a lot of both local and out-of-town business from people with money to spend. And think of all the other things the out-of-towners can and will do while they’re visiting here (theaters, concerts, upscale hotels, etc.).

    I also think that this project will help bring more security/police in to disperse the “unsavory characters” everyone speaks of. It is because the building was historically welcoming to the loitering public (and not just patrons) that has opened it up to the people who hangout there. You get a casino in there (where ID’s have to be checked, money has to be secured, safety has to be ensured) and I bet you they will keep loitering people “moving along.”

  • Thumbelina

    A Block E “upscale” casino is a terrible idea, and so is a state-run casino. We have enough casinos in this state already. What demographic study are they looking at? Since when do casinos enrich anyone’s life other than those running the place? Casinos the world over, no matter how ‘upscale’ they are, attract an unsavory element and everyone knows it. I have seen lives ruined because of a family member’s addiction to gambling. Please, this is NOT a good idea for the Twin Cities. It’s bad enough that there are so many other casinos within easy driving distance from Mpls./St.Paul. C’mon, this will not be a good thing no matter how you slice it.