Cincinnati — Casino Revenue to Support Streetcar
Rail Transit Online, October 2010
Cincinnati's city council has voted to spend up to 25 percent of the tax revenue it will receive from the Broadway Commons casino to subsidize operation of a proposed streetcar line between the downtown riverfront and the Uptown area near the University of Cincinnati.
The decision almost completes funding for the project, with $114 million of the $128-million capital cost already identified. Officials are confident the remaining
$14 million will materialize from applications that have already been filed for more than $70 million in new federal and state grants. According to internal e-mails from City Manager Milton Dohoney Jr, obtained by The Enquirer, a groundbreaking ceremony could be held in early November after election day but at a time convenient for U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood.
The $400-million casino will be completed in 2013, at about the same time as the streetcar, but the nearest stop will be three blocks away. A spokesman for the Detroit-based company
that owns casino rights in Cincinnati said the firm might be willing to help finance a spur to Broadway Commons.
"Expansion of the transit system in that direction would ultimately be successful," Matt Cullen, president and chief operating officer of Rock Ventures LLC, told the
Business Courier of Cincinnati. "I'd be a proponent of going to the casino site and going beyond. But the devil's in the details, in terms of the design and how it would lay out and what the economics are. If it's $5, I'm in. If it's $50 million, we're not." Cullen is a streetcar supporter in his hometown, serving as unpaid CEO for Detroit's privately-financed M-1 Rail project.
There's been no official estimate of what the casino extension would cost and the city has no resources to pursue the scheme, but officials say they're interested in at least considering the idea because it would increase ridership.