Hard Rock chairman inspects potential casino site

Updated: 08/04/2014 6:38 PM
Created: 08/04/2014 6:23 PM WNYT.com
By: WNYT Staff

RENSSELAER – The chairman of Hard Rock International inspected the Rensselaer location on Monday they hope will become the site of their newest casino.

It's one of five locations that still has a chance in the high stakes sweepstakes - that will play out in the next several months.

Not a lot is going on in public right now with the casino application.

Staff and consultants are wading through many boxes of material.

In a couple of months gaming selection commissioners will be ask to make decisions, and one of five local sites will get news that is supposed to be worth many hundreds of millions of dollars in profits and community revenues.

It's not clear how much it will help, but the visit today from James F. Allen, Chairman of Hard Rock International, probably doesn't hurt.

Accompanied by the Rensselaer Mayor and other local officials, it again reinforces that this struggling small city is pretty much uniformly in favor of the application, unlike, for example, the East Greenbush project that has drawn public protests and the withdrawal of support from one of the town board members.

“I think it certainly is helpful that the community that you're involved with, whether it be the Mayor or the council or the citizens, support the concept,” said Allen.

The law that sets up the casino award process specifies independent selection commissioners with expertise in the field. They're supposed to weigh various factors including community need and support for the project.

The decision making is supposed to be done in public although there's a long history in this state of thinking and discussing in private behind closed doors then rubber stamping decisions with little or no explanation once the so called public session is held.

Whether the casino selection will be open and public or face pressure and influence attempts of the type alleged in the current Moreland Commission controversy remains to be seen.

The Hard Rock Chairman wasn't playing that hand.

Actually, I'm not familiar with that particular inquiry,” Allen said. “One of the things Hard Rock is, it's a brand that's not political so we try to stay out of the politics.”

However, Albany decision making is almost always all about the politics, so if the Hard Rock’s claim to stay out of politics is serious, it will be interesting to see how they fare in the selection process.

One measure will be the lobbying dollars spent as those reports eventually come in.


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