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BC Place renos don’t depend on casino money

March 15th, 2011 · 68 Comments

That’s the word from PavCo CEO Warren Buckley, as he spelled out for me exactly how the $563-million renos are being financed for BC Place. My story is just one small effort to isolate some of the actual facts in the pile-up of information and misinformation debris that has been accumulating around this project.

There are still so many other pieces to sort out, which even the public hearings aren’t helping with that much as various speakers come with their version of reality.

Staff are trying to clarify on the 1001 questions as they arise. This memo got sent out recently. as part of that effort.

Things we still don’t know:

– What are the number of problem gamblers in the province? (We know the likelihood, but not the actual caseload so far.)

– Will Paragon really just pack up its bags and go if it doesn’t get an expansion? Paragon announced that, contrary to what an earlier media report said, Paragon can’t extend its lease at the Plaza of Nations past 2013. That makes you think they’ll close. But others say it’s hard to imagine that they will give up a lucrative casino licence that is managing to make them money at its current size.

– What is the real likely revenue for a larger casino and how much of that is actually new revenue, as opposed to current levels of gambling just resorting them?

– How long would it take to bring in that $100 million a year from new international visitors that Paragon talks about?

and, last but not least,

– How did this whole deal come about? That’s what baffles most of us. When I talked to Warren Buckley today, he wasn’t able to recall exactly when he learned that Paragon wanted to triple the size of its casino. Everyone had known since 2006 that Paragon was going to have to move the Edgewater. Both the city and landlord had made it clear it needed to move by 2013.

I saw the casino placed next to BC Place on an architect’s plan for the area in May 2008, when the premier announced the Vancouver Art Gallery would move to the area. But I didn’t think much about it. It seemed like it was just the casino I knew, but moved across the street.

Mr. Buckley thinks that he didn’t really have a sense of Paragon’s much larger plans until the request for expressions of interest came in, although Paragon had obviously been expressing an interest in moving for some time before that. But he had been out of the country working elsewhere just prior to that, so I’m not sure he’s the best person to nail this one for me.

Maybe we’ll find out in the next 100 hours of public hearings.

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