Thursday, February 7, 2013

By Graeme MacKay, The Hamilton Spectator – Thursday, February 7, 2013

Councillors hear pitch from RockHammer

In the face of a $200-million proposal for a flashy downtown casino, several councillors are keeping their sights set squarely on a gaming facility in Flamborough.

PJ Mercanti, McMaster University professor Nick Bontis, and Hess Village business owner Dean Collett brought their proposal for a Hard Rock casino and entertainment complex to Hamilton City Hall Wednesday. Although it’s rumoured there are several parties interested in bidding on a Hamilton casino, Mercanti’s company, RockHammer Inc, is the first to officially make a pitch to council.

Despite garnering praise for laying their cards on the table, RockHammer’s proposal prompted mixed reactions from council.

Several councillors’ questions focused on whether the Hard Rock proposal could be tailored to Flamborough instead of downtown. And despite warnings that RockHammer would likely have to scale back plans for a 280-room hotel and entertainment complex if it were located in Flamborough, another councillor — Bernie Morelli — joined several of his colleagues in stating his opposition to any casino development in the city core.

So far, that means six councillors — Morelli, Brian McHattie, Jason Farr, Sam Merulla, Rob Pasuta and Judi Partridge — are firmly opposed to a downtown casino. Although some councillors have implied their support for a downtown casino, no councillor has explicitly backed that idea. (Source: Hamilton Spectator)