Cordish Buying Greenwood Out in Philly

Cordish Companies announced it is buying out its partner, Greenwood Gaming, in the under-construction Philly Live! casino project (l.) in South Philadelphia. The company is also asking the state Gaming Control Board to grant it a three-year extension, which would have the casino opening in last 2021.

Cordish also will assume mini-casino ownership

Baltimore-based Cordish Companies announced that it will buy out its partner, Greenwood Gaming, to assume 100 percent ownership of Stadium Casino, the operating company currently building the Philly Live! Hotel & Casino in South Philadelphia—along with the mini-casino the company is planning in Westmoreland County, Pennsylvania. Stadium is so named because of its proximity to the Philadelphia sports complex, which includes the stadiums and arenas for all the professional sports teams that call the city home.

The announcement followed rumors that Cordish and Greenwood Gaming, owner of the Parx Casino at Philadelphia Park in Bensalem, were ready to sell the project to an outside developer. The partnership recently made a request to the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board for a three-year extension on its deadline to open the casino-hotel, originally planned to open this December. It also asked the board to approve a “corporate restructuring” of the partnership.

Relations between the partners have not been ideal, according to many. The terms of the buyout deal were not disclosed. “It’s been rocky from the start of the partnership, so it’s not a surprise that it has come to this,” Roger Gros, publisher of Global Gaming Business Magazine, said in an interview with the Philadelphia Inquirer.

“We at Cordish are excited to now immediately get to work on constructing and opening two first-­class casinos for Pennsylvania, which will create thousands of new, quality jobs for local residents, and hundreds of millions of dollars in new taxes for the commonwealth,” Joe Weinberg, managing member of Stadium Casino Baltimore Investors LLC, said in a statement.

Greenwood, in addition to operating Parx, plans to open a satellite sports-betting operation at its South Philadelphia Turf Club, which is across the street from the Stadium Casino site.

The Stadium project was licensed in 2014, after a protracted struggle to open a second Philadelphia casino despite substantial opposition from SugarHouse, the first city casino, and a number of local officials who felt the market is oversaturated.

The Stadium partnership seemed to be the ideal solution to that oversaturation, with a site occupied by a former Holiday Inn that was sitting right in the heart of the stadium district, with foot traffic from all the city’s professional sports fans. The location is near the homes of the Super Bowl champion Philadelphia Eagles, the Philadelphia Phillies baseball team, the NBA Sixers, and the NHL’s Philadelphia Flyers, as well as several other professional teams and collegiate teams.

The partnership closed on the $37 million purchase of the Holiday Inn last January, and has partially demolished the 240-room hotel tower before halting construction around a month ago.

The casino and hotel complex is planned as a 2 million-square-foot facility with a Las Vegas-style casino floor, featuring more than 2,000 slot machines and more than 125 table games, an upscale boutique hotel and spa, live entertainment venues featuring local and national acts, valet parking and an approximately 3,000-space parking garage.

The Project is immediately proximate to the Philadelphia Sports Complex, already a major tourist destination, drawing 8.5 million visitors a year. The project is projected to generate approximately $400 million in economic benefits during construction, including the creation of 3,000 direct and indirect jobs.

Earlier this year, the Stadium partnership was granted a license to open a Category 4 mini-casino at the former site of the Bon-Ton anchor store at Westmoreland Mall in Western Pennsylvania. Stadium Casino has already spent more than $40 million on that project, including license fees to operate up to 750 slot machines and 35 table games.

The mini-casino application identifies the satellite casino—created under last year’s gaming expansion law—as a potential remedy to the problems facing malls around the country as more and more choose to shop online.

“The bankruptcy and closure of Bon-Ton at Westmoreland Mall is part of the larger crisis facing malls nationwide,” the application states. “JC Penney and Macy’s occupy two of the other three anchor locations at Westmoreland, putting the mall at further financial risk. The proposed Category 4 casino is an alternative anchor at the mall and would drive foot traffic to other stores at Westmoreland.”