Last month, the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board announced its intention to give residents of Philadelphia's Stadium District a new neighbor. However, the current proposal for the Live! Hotel & Casino falls short of what I consider to be several important standards to ensure our community is adequately protected.
Recently, Joseph Weinberg, president of Cordish Cos., one of two principals in developing the Live! venture, said, "We don't expect any issues with the process." But unless community concerns about handling increased traffic and crime, as well as a lack of minority ownership, are addressed, I'm not sure I agree with Weinberg.
To be clear, I support the creation of jobs and the generation of revenue a second casino could provide. But I believe the Gaming Board missed an opportunity to improve areas of the city that would have benefited from the addition of a casino and further Philadelphia's proud history of minority companies moving our city forward. The two Center City locations showed promise in revitalizing corridors, boosting tourism, and including minority owners. The proposal at Front and Packer was adequately separated from neighborhoods and had easy access to interstate highways.
By contrast, the 10th and Packer plan squeezes another venue into a very busy Sports Complex that already holds 380 events per year and hosts eight million visitors. It was also the sole applicant not to include minorities in its ownership structure. This must be remedied by a strong diversity plan at Live! I am wary of Cordish's dedication to that purpose, considering the racial discrimination lawsuits filed against the company by African Americans. I will review very closely Cordish's plan to incorporate and welcome minorities to their development.
Residents also have voiced concerns about the effects of increased traffic and the threat of crime a casino may draw, so we must now look ahead and ensure that all issues and concerns are addressed adequately.
To that end, Live! Hotel & Casino must explore ways to offset the increased activity coming to the stadium complex. Residents, who already feel trapped in their neighborhoods on game days, are worried about the impact that even more traffic and parking will have. To ensure that crime does not increase as a result of the casino's presence, Live! will have to prioritize safety in the area and provide resources toward an increased police presence and the installation of improved lighting and security cameras.
Greenwood Gaming, a partner of the ownership group at Live! and owner of Parx Casino, has a track record of investments in its communities. In 2013-14, Parx invested more than $6 million in charitable donations and community outreach, which was almost 70 percent of donations by casinos statewide. I will be advocating for that type of investment in South Philadelphia.
The process of building a casino in South Philadelphia did not end with the Gaming Board's announcement. Rather, it has just begun. As we move forward, I will be working hard to ensure that Live! Hotel & Casino addresses the concerns I share with residents of the district I represent.