It sounds like Sioux City and the Argosy Casino's operator, Penn National Gaming, are making headway on renewing their lease. The current agreement allows the city to collect three-percent of the casino's revenue for letting the boat dock off I-29.
The lease expires January 29th. If it's not renewed the Argosy could close, putting more than 300 out of work.
Over the phone Wednesday morning, Sioux City and Penn hashed out details for a new lease. City officials called the negotiations "productive."
"It went rather quickly. I think we were out of there in 15 to 20 minutes. They just asked us what our proposal would be. They asked us to reduce it to writing. They asked if they could review it for 24 hours and then set another phone conference," said Sioux City Mayor Bob Scott.
That conference could be later this week.
In a statement the city said a "tentative agreement" is "anticipated in the next two weeks." It would last "up to two years," and need the Iowa Racing & Gaming Commission's approval.
The city has got to be happy they're negotiating. Last Thursday, officials said they were worried the lease wouldn't get done. Time was tight because the Argosy is in an urban renewal district and Iowa law requires a month to get the lease approved.
City Manager Paul Eckert said last week they needed something concrete by early December, but couldn't get Penn's management to talk.
"We have been consistent in asking them (Penn). Please, please, please can we at least telephone conference with the leadership, not just attorneys or representatives at a lower level, but let's have a meaningful conversation because we care very, very, very much," said Eckert.
In response last week, Penn admitted they hadn't had a lot of time for negotiations. But, they've remained confident an agreement could be met with the city before the lease's expiration.
"There have been scheduling conflicts, which I acknowledge have been frustrating. But again it's in no way a reflection of lack of interest, lack of intent, or lack of desire. Our feeling is, we're hopeful that the extension will get done," said Penn National Gaming Public Affairs Vice President, Eric Schippers.
We contacted Penn National for comment Wednesday. In a statement Schippers said; "We had what I would describe as a preliminary discussion with the City today. We're anticipating a proposal from the City on the lease, and we'll withhold judgment or further comment until we see it."
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