On Monday, Lovely Warren, the mayor of Rochester, New York, announced that the city received two proposals for a performing arts center on East Main Street at Midtown’s Parcel Five, one of which includes a casino.
The Seneca Nation of Indians submitted a comprehensive draft proposal for the construction of a performing arts center that would include a gaming facility. A second draft proposal in conceptual form was submitted to the city on Thomas Wilmot’s behalf by a group of casino operators, along with other potential investors that have yet to be identified, who would provide partial funding for a stand-alone performing arts center. Wilmot is the chairman of Wilmorite Management Group LLC, the company that is developing del Lago Resort & Casino, the $440 million undertaking in Tyre, Seneca County.
Rochester’s mayor said, “A world-class performing arts center in the heart of our city would be a game changer for downtown Rochester, drawing tourists from across the region and creating jobs for the people in the neighborhoods where they are most needed,” and, “A performing arts center project will bring activity to downtown and, when combined with gaming, also holds vast job-creating potential, according to the Rochester Business Journal. Mayor Warren said that she needed to keep an open mind regarding any project that will create jobs and invest in the downtown area, especially Parcel Five.
According to the proposal by the Seneca Gaming Corp., the development has the potential to create thousands of permanent jobs downtown that will pay well. The proposal combines a gaming and entertainment center with a 3000-seat performing arts center, which could host as many as 150 shows a year, including concerts and Broadway plays. Neither a signature franchise restaurant nor a hotel is part of the proposal.
According to the Wilmot proposal, Delaware North and Batavia OTB, the organizers of Wilmorite, will source the equivalent of 400 full-time jobs from Rochester, in partnership with RochesterWorks Inc. and the company’s participating job training programs. The proposal also describes a funding plan to build and develop a performing arts facility in the city for performances of the Rochester Broadway Theatre League, according to the Journal.
In April, Mayor Warren reached out to Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown for input regarding a downtown casino because of his experience with the Seneca Buffalo Creek Casino in the downtown Buffalo area. One major difference is that Buffalo Creek is a full-fledged casino, which operates under a state compact that requires a percentage of slot machine revenue go to the city.
The last time the Seneca Nation considered a downtown Rochester casino was possibly in 2010 when the mayor was Robert Duffy. At that time, the location looked at was a former Rochester Gas and Electric property on Andrews Street next to the Genesee River.