Slots Wars: Cordish kicks off Arundel Mills campaign
The battle over whether to build a slots parlor near Arundel Mills Mall is heating up, with a group tied to developer Cordish airing its first pro-slots commercial.
Colleague Nicole Fuller wrote about the ad in this morning's Sun. From the story:
"A narrator lists the windfall that Anne Arundel purportedly would receive from slots — "4,000 new, good-paying jobs … $400 million a year for school construction … $30 million for police, fire and critical county services," backed by images of construction workers and schoolchildren sitting before laptop computers. The 30-second ad features county residents from Glen Burnie and Brooklyn Park."
The opposing group, backed by the Maryland Jockey Club -- which wants the county's only casino license for itself -- has been airing television ads for weeks.
Sun business columnist Jay Hancock also blogged about the new Cordish ad.Nicole has more today on the opening of a new headquarters for the Cordish-backed group in Severna Park, where company president David Cordish proclaimed, “We’re going to win.”
“I feel good,” said Cordish, stressing both his company’s and his personal Maryland roots. “I know we’re going to win. We’re not going anywhere. My number’s in the phone book. We’re the home team.”
Cordish was joined by a coalition of supporters, including union leaders, and president of the local chamber of commerce.
Speakers stressed the revenues that they claim both the county and state are losing with the project’s postponement – 4,000 new jobs, $30 million in annual local tax revenue and $400 million annually to the state’s Education Trust Fund.
Timothy Mennuti, president of the Teachers Association of Anne Arundel County, said the funding would benefit teachers and students who are studying in “inadequate facilities,” citing a $2 billion maintenance and school construction backlog.
“We can’t see a more effective or efficient way to provide funding for our county,” said Mennuti.
Wayne Frazier, president of the Maryland Washington Minority Contractors Association, said Cordish was committed to hiring local workers.
“Jobs are the key,” said Frazier. “This is a shovel-ready project. All we need is zoning. With that, we’ll be able to go to work sometime in December.”
The County Council has approved zoning for the slots parlor, but the developer has faced opposition from residents near the mall. Opponents of locating the casino at the mall site, calling themselves “No Slots at the Mall,” are being backed financially by the Maryland Jockey Club, which hopes to revitalize Laurel Park by situating the county's slots facility at the racetrack.
Todd Lamb, an Annapolis consultant hired as campaign manager for Jobs & Revenue, said over the next 55 days, the group would be organizing volunteers, and going door-to-door.
“We have the facts and we’re going to use them to the detriment of our opponents.”
David Jones, a spokesman for the opposition group, did not immediately return a message seeking comment.
The Maryland Court of Appeals ruled in July that the ballot referendum on the zoning
ordinance allowing slots at the mall should go forward, reversing a lower court decision that the zoning was tied to an appropriations bill and therefore could not be put to a vote.
When asked how much his company was spending to finance the pro-slots campaign, Cordish said “We’re spending a pittance compared to what [the opposition] spent.”