A giant entertainment corporation wants you to know how much better Exhibition Place would be if there were an enormous resort casino on top of it.
Until now, most of the debate over the possibility of building a casino in downtown Toronto has taken place at City Hall, but it was only a matter of time before one of the corporations angling for that sweet OLG contract decided to take its message straight to the people—the slots-loving, regular people who would, of course, be all for gambling if only Toronto’s nanny state would step out of the way.
To that end, MGM Resorts International and Cadillac Fairview have put together this website, which talks all about the many supposed advantages of building a casino at Exhibition Place. (This is only one of several competing casino proposals to have emerged in the aftermath of OLG’s announcement last March.) The site appears to have launched yesterday, or at any rate, that’s when it began to attract attention. There’s an email list you can sign up for, and a Facebook page where you can express your total agreement by clicking “like.”
Why should Toronto hand over one of its choicest pieces of real estate to a single developer? MGM is glad you asked.
The website says, in a section titled “Why Exhibition Place”:
With the development of an Integrated Resort complex, the site will attract one million new visitors to Toronto annually, provide the city with millions of dollars per year in new revenue streams, and create up to 10,000 new jobs locally.
You know what else would bring jobs, revenue, and tourists to Toronto? Almost anything. Over on another part of the waterfront, the City is turning under-utilized land into entire new neighbourhoods.
And here’s the thing about neighbourhoods: they’re great long-term investments, because they live and breathe and continually attract new businesses that keep up with the times. And they pay property taxes—and hey, they even help create jobs. A resort casino, meanwhile, is hermetically sealed. Time and taste don’t exist there, though if you’re lucky they’ll comp your meal.
Put another way: in three decades, where would you be more likely to hang out? At a 30-year-old casino, or in a place where there’s a diverse mix of stuff, both new and old? Probably the latter.
The important aspects of this casino discussion ultimately have nothing to do with jobs or economics. What we should be worried about is the fact that once we put a casino on some really nice plot of downtown land, it’s going to be a very long time before we can replace it with anything else.