Cordish Gaming’s second application for the rights to build a $2.2 billion integrated casino resort at the Torres de la Alameda macro-complex in Madrid was rejected by the Community of Madrid last week in a move said to surprise and “shock” the American gaming company.
The Spanish newspaper, El Confidencial, reported on Friday that the fourth-generation family-owned Cordish Companies would seek legal remedy, and that representative of Cordish learned of the rejection through media reports, rather than through official channels. The latest application was reportedly 500 pages in length and the original proposal, rejected in March 2017, was said to have “met all the requirements for a CID (Integrated Development Center) license,” while the most recent application made crystal clear every nuance of the Madrid Live! integrated resort they wish to build.
The project was slated to occupy over 225 acres of land near the Adolfo Suárez Madrid–Barajas Airport, the country’s main airport. Some reports indicate the government was not comfortable with the revised plan because it may have still relied too much on gaming revenues in order to succeed. The plan called for a casino floor of over 100,000 sq ft.
Only one Integrated Development Center (CID) can only be approved in any ten year period because of the broad scope of such a project including land use and tax issues.
Cordish CEO Joseph Weinberg is reported as having said that if Madrid Live! did not meet the CID license requirements, then no project could. He noted that his project would create over 50,000 jobs and pump billions of euros into the local economy. Wienberg stated that his company had committed to cover all necessary infrastructure improvements needed to support the project and would seek no aid or subsidies from the Community of Madrid.
Those assurances were reportedly conveyed by Cordish Companies during a July 19 meeting with representatives of the Community of Madrid. They also are said to have committed to completing the project, showed credit backing from Credit Suisse and American bank holding company M&T Bank, and promised to include about 16.5 acres of free public beach access. No more than 15% of the development’s area would be devoted to gaming, according to the El Confidencial report.
One reason given for rejecting the proposal in March was that the initial plan may have left the Community of Madrid responsible for investing about $370 million in infrastructure such as road and rail improvements needed to get visitors to the complex. However, in March a Cordish company spokesperson stated: “The government does not understand our application in two major respects. One, we make no requests for any public infrastructure nor any public subsidy by the government and in fact, none is needed. Two, we are fully committed to a total build-out of a massive $2.2 billion integrated resort.”
The proposal submitted in December 2016 and rejected in March called for 4,000 guestrooms and suites along with typical resort amenities like convention space, retail outlets, a full range of food and beverage outlets, entertainment venues, etc. but in order to qualify for CID license, the project would also need sports and cultural components. Many integrated resort developments begin with a casino in their first phase as a way to service debt while the rest of the project moves forward. The plan for Madrid Live! reportedly included “Europe’s largest offer of resort-style hotels, gastronomy, all kinds of entertainment, shops and events for residents, families, tourists, congresses, and conventions” along with several nightclubs, an eSports arena, and the addition of a “World Soccer Hall Of Fame Museum” nearby.
Calvinayre.com reports that the Cordish plan expected to rely on gaming for about 62% of the project’s revenues in its first year. The massive casino floor would offer 1,500 slots, 100 table games, 30 poker tables, and a 15,000 sq ft sports betting center.
It’s currently unclear if the company will be invited to apply again or exactly what they would have to change for their third proposal to be successful.