Developers present their cases for Wyandotte County casino

TOPEKA | Two developers hoping to build a casino in Wyandotte County made their sales pitches to state lottery officials Wednesday.

The selection of the winning developer is expected later this summer. Both developers said they could begin construction quickly and open a casino within two to three years.

Penn National Gaming Inc. boasts its $385 million Hollywood Casino proposal includes a resort hotel in the earliest phase and no need for outside financing. The facility would be built at the southeast corner of I-435 and Parallel Parkway.

The Hollywood would sit next to the Schlitterbahn water park, now under construction. Steve Snyder, senior vice president at Penn, said the project would jump-start additional growth east of I-435.

“We do look at this as a tremendous catalyst for development,” Snyder told commissioners.

Snyder said Penn already knows the local gambling market since it owns the Argosy casino in Riverside.

Kansas Entertainment LLC — a partnership of the Cordish Co. and Kansas Speedway — said its $361 million Hard Rock Casino proposal comes with a proven brand and a prime location adjacent to the track. The project’s second phase would include a resort hotel.

“We believe we have the optimal location,” said Joseph Weinberg of Cordish, which is the developer of Kansas City’s Power and Light District.

Another incentive Weinberg offered is that his team will work to lure two additional races to the speedway if their project is selected.

Lottery commissioners have until to the end of the month to review the proposals and sign contracts with the developers. A state review panel will then have up to 60 days to select the winning proposal.

State lawmakers approved a casino for Wyandotte in 2007 with the hopes that facility could open quickly. But the economy forced earlier applicants to drop out and the state had to start over.

Wyandotte County officials already have endorsed both plans.