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A coalition of Broadway theater owners and producers, midtown Manhattan community and tenant organizations, and such well-known theater-district restaurants as Sardi’s and Joe Allen are among the members of a new coalition pledging opposition to a proposed casino in Times Square.
Citing such potential liabilities of a Times Square casino as traffic congestion, economic disruption and social harm including making the area “less welcoming to families,” the No Times Square Casino coalition is urging state gaming officials to reject any casino proposals for the neighborhood.
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“After a decades-long turnaround that revitalized the neighborhood and turned it into a pre-eminent destination for locals, businesses and tourists, Times Square is one of the most vibrant areas in the country,” said Charlotte St. Martin, president of the Broadway League, the trade organization representing theater owners and producers. “We don’t want to see that progress jeopardized by a casino.”
The new coalition was formed in response to last year’s announcement by Caesars Entertainment and Manhattan realty company SL Green of their intentions to seek permission to building a Caesars Palace casino at 1515 Broadway, the same building that houses Disney’s long-running musical The Lion King. In December, Jay-Z’s Roc Nation entertainment agency joined the companies’ efforts.
New York State’s Gaming Facility Location Board’s is expected to review application requests for new casino’s in the city this year, with competition for the licenses intensifying, the new coalition says. Other potential casino operators have proposed locations throughout the city’s boroughs.
Details of the Caesars proposal were released last October, and the concept was quickly opposed by The Broadway League and supported by Actors’ Equity Association, with the labor union representing actors and stage managers citing the potential for new jobs, among other possible benefits.
“We believe that Times Square offers the best location for a new resort casino that can attract tourists and benefit local businesses,” said Marc Holliday, CEO of SL Green, at the time. “We’re excited to pursue this license with Caesars and our many local partners. Our approach will ensure that under-represented communities benefit both in terms of employment and investment opportunities.”
In the announcement of its formation today, the No Times Square Casino coalition said its members already include the League, The Hell’s Kitchen Neighborhood Association, The Hell’s Kitchen Block Association,
The West 47th – 48th Streets Block Association, The Manhattan Plaza Tenants Association, The Clinton Hell’s Kitchen Chelsea Coalition for Pedestrian Safety, Times Square Church, Encore Community Services, The American Bus Association, and The Student & Youth Travel Association.
While the names of most of those organizations will likely be recognizable only to residents of the various Times Square area neighborhoods, the membership roster also includes some of the most iconic theater-haunt restaurants in the vicinity. In addition to Sardi’s and Joe Allen, the membership includes Italian restaurant Orso and the popular pre- and post-show watering hole Bar Centrale.
Max Klimavicius, owner of Sardi’s, said, “No matter how much emphasis promoters try to place on glitz and glamour, a casino in Times Square has the potential to unravel the fabric of the theater district and jeopardize the fate of its restaurants.”
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