Backers of Hollywood Casino just finished pitching their dual proposals to the Iowa Racing and Gaming Commssion.
The presentations included a slickly-produced video, a PowerPoint, remarks from top company officials and testimonials from local community leaders.
Penn National Gaming Co. has offered the IRGC a choice of an urban or rural site for their casino and entertainment complex, which would feature 1930s-era motif designed to recapture the golden age of Hollywood.
"We're neutral on which we would prefer," Penn CEO and Chairman Peter Carlino told the IRGC. "We'd be happy to do either one."
A $160 million project, called Hollywood Casino Sioux City, would be built in downtown Sioux City in the 700 block of Gordon Drive. A rural site, lternative site, a $167 million development called Hollywood Casino Siouxland, is south of the city limits, just east of the Interstate 29 exit at Port Neal.
Penn backers noted the company's track record, growing from a single race track in 1972 to the nation's second-largest gaming gaming company.
"No one has developed more gaming projects in the United States than we have," said Carlino, who predicted the proposed Hollywood Casino would take gaming in Siouxland "to a new level," and become the "most exciting" project in Iowa.
In Sioux City, Penn officials pointed out the company has successfully operated the Argosy riverboat casino since 2004. The boat currently employs more than 300.
Lorraine May, a Des Moines attorney who handles regulatory matters for the company, was the first to speak on behalf of Penn and the Hollywood projects. As a IRGC commissioner in the early 1990s, May recalled how two different Sioux City riverboat projects "imploded" after developers failed to meet financial contingencies imposed by the commission as a condition of granting the license.
May said there would be no such risk with the Hollywood Casino because Penn has the resources to finance the project itself.
"We're ready to write the check today," Penn director of public affairs Karen Bailey told the commission.
Kelly Conolly, a Sioux City businessman, told the IRGC that Penn's projects offer the least risk financially to local taxpayers than the competing proposals.
Conolly is a member of Greater Siouxland Improvement Association, the newly-formed local nonprofit group that jointly applied with Penn for the land-based gaming license. GSIA President Bob Knowler, a former Woodbury County treasurer and businessman, also spoke during the presentation, and introduced members of the group's board, which he said represents a diverse cross section of the community.
In a show of local support, Bailey presented the IRGC with binders full of of 1,600 letters from individuals in support of the projects. About 14 percent of the letters, collected in the last few weeks, were from Argosy employees, she said.
Penn's trademark Hollywood decor feature elegant chandeliers, art deco columns and other flourishes throughout the casino floor and surrounding dining areas, as well as motion picture memorabilia.
Penn expects to employ 434 at its downtown Sioux City site, or 472 at a rural location near Salix. The difference in the two numbers is due to the inclusion of a 150-room hotel at the rural site, just east of the Interstate 29 Port Neal exit.
Non-gaming amenities would include a fine-dining steakhouse, casual grille, casino bar and sports pub and a 6,000 square-foot multipurpose event center with a 500-seat venue
Each site would have a 30,000-square-foot gaming floor with 750 slot machines and 25 tables games. Penn projects first-year gaming revenues of $85 million at the downtown site, and $89 million at the rural location, with the inclusion of a hotel again being the difference between the two figures.