Fitch urges council/residents to take some creative control over casino project
By Kristen Johnson, Multimedia Journalist/ Weekend Anchor - bio | email
SIOUX CITY, Iowa (KTIV) -
The non-profit who holds the gaming license may be in the driver seat, but some Sioux City leaders are trying to take over the wheel.
The casino is about more than just gambling. It's a destination.
Some on the council hope to have say on a project that could wind up in the heart of their city.
"I want to make sure that we get the best for Sioux City that we can get," said Mayor Pro-Tem John Fitch.
The city may not have its pick of proposals, but they have the final say on any project set within city limits.
"I want the city to make the decision. What is the amenities that we expect, what is it that we want," Fitch told fellow council members.
So far, it doesn't sound like he's liked much of what he's heard, "If it's a $25 million parking garage, I'm not impressed. If it's a steakhouse, I'm not impressed. If it's 10 bowling alleys, I'm not impressed."
So, Fitch made a pitch.
"One that really trips my trigger is the Prospect Hill area," he said.
The idea was first suggested by Prospect Hill Property owner Dennis Benson during a council meeting last month.
"This hill has a beautiful view. It sits right on the interstate, it's butted up against downtown," said Benson.
One member of Downtown Partners expressed concern that a casino atop Prospect Hill would be cut off from the rest of Sioux City's downtown amenities.
"It's kind of an island," Chris Bogenrief pointed out.
He worries how that would impact existing entertainment districts.
"What every casino operator wants to do is be a self-contained box that nobody ever leaves," explained Bogenrief.
Fitch's vision goes beyond a casino. He also sees the hill as a place big enough to hold space for Sioux City events that are currently spread out across the downtown, from Art Splash to Rock N Rods.
"I think we need something on the riverfront because you're gonna draw people off the road," said Council Member Rhonda Capron.
Fitch said he wanted to start the conversation, and he certainly got his fellow council members talking.
"Those proposals have to come from the operators. They know their business, they know what they wanna bring," said Council Member Keith Radig.
"This is our big chance here for Sioux City to really, to really hit the big number here, and we can do it," added Capron.
Hear Fitch tell his vision for a casino project on Prospect Hill by clicking on the video.
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