Cordish Grows Pennsylvania Footprint
Cordish Companies’ Stadium Casino subsidiary is targeting both sides of the state of Pennsylvania with new Live! casino and hotel projects in Philadelphia and Pittsburgh. The Philadelphia project (l.) is well under way with opening scheduled for 2020.
Three years ago, Baltimore-based Cordish Companies was known to the gaming industry mainly for its flagship Live! Casino & Hotel, opened as Maryland Live! in 2012, one of the top two Maryland gaming venues.
It was a continuation of several Live! entertainment attractions Cordish has developed around the country since initiating the brand in 1999 with Baltimore’s Power Plant Live! Attraction. But it was the company’s first self-branded foray into gaming, after developing and opening the Hard Rock casino resorts in Hollywood and Tampa, Florida for the Seminole tribe.
Maryland Live! was built adjacent to Ann Arundel Mall, a major retail center, and the addition of a 17-story, 310-room five-star hotel has allowed the property to hold its own against competition from MGM National Harbor, opened at the end of 2016.
However, long before that property opened, Cordish had hedged its bets in a still-growing Pennsylvania gaming market. In 2014, along with partner Greenwood Gaming, owner of the Parx Casino, Cordish formed Stadium Casino, which was granted the license for the second casino in Philadelphia.
The project was picked by the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board largely because of one major advantage over other applicants—the project’s location in the center of South Philadelphia’s Stadium District, home to all the city’s professional sports teams. As it happens, Cordish already had a presence there, in the Xfinity Live! entertainment district.
Live! Casino & Hotel Philadelphia, under construction with a targeted opening next year, is expected to draw on the foot traffic from NFL, NHL, NBA and Major League Baseball games, not to mention the location’s easy access from Interstate 95 and the established Cordish entertainment attractions.
For Cordish, however, one other advantage of sole ownership of the Philadelphia license is the privilege of bidding on one of the Category 4 “mini-casinos” created by Pennsylvania’s massive 2017 gaming expansion law. Category 4 casinos must be linked to a current land-based casino licensee, but are limited to a maximum 750 slot machines and 40 table games.
Two weeks ago, Stadium Casino was officially awarded the license for a Category 4 satellite casino that will have Cordish building its gaming footprint simultaneously in the state’s two largest metropolitan areas. The new Stadium mini-casino will be called Live! Casino Pittsburgh. It’s being built in the former Sears anchor store of the Westmoreland Mall in West Hempfield Township, near Route 30, around 30 miles from Pittsburgh.
The $150 million Pittsburgh property will be a 100,000-square-foot gaming, dining and entertainment destination, opening with 750 slots and 30 table games, as well as nationally recognized restaurants and entertainment venues.
The same day the Pennsylvania board approved Stadium Casino’s mini-casino license, it renewed the company’s license for Live! Casino & Hotel Philadelphia. Both properties are slated to open in 2020.
In an interview with GGB News, Rob Norton, president of Cordish Gaming Group, said inherent location and access advantages point to the success of both projects.
“Live! Casino & Hotel Philadelphia will be the only true luxury resort hotel/casino in the broader Philadelphia area,” Norton said, “and will set a new standard for both quality and offerings in the market. It will combine the best in gaming, great dining, live entertainment, and will elevate the Stadium District to a new level as a destination, as a place to watch, play and stay.
“Given the power of the location, access and amenities, we are certain it will quickly establish itself as the premier revenue-generating casino in the market.”
Norton said the Pittsburgh location offers unique advantages of its own. “Westmoreland Mall is itself a well-trafficked existing attraction in the region,” he said. “In addition, the ease of access to our site from a major interstate, coupled with our ample surface and structured parking, will create a highly compelling destination for gamers in the broader region.”
Cordish added that the company’s strengths, and its experience with the Live! brand, will transcend the inherent strengths of the locations. “The key is to provide customers a complete entertainment experience that encompasses far more than simply gaming or a specific amenity, and combine this with uniquely personalized and warm service,” he said. “Similar to what we’ve done at our flagship property in Maryland, this will encompass gaming, dining and entertainment attractions. In particular, we will have a major sports and event viewing venue that will be unparalleled in the market, and will provide for an upscale sports viewing and betting experience.”
Cordish says the company has been welcomed as a new corporate citizen in both of its new Pennsylvania locations. “We have received nothing but support from the community in each market,” he said. “For example, in Philadelphia, we have entered into an unprecedented Community Benefits Agreement with five community groups located in the neighborhoods immediately surrounding our project, including the South Philadelphia Communities Civic Association, the Sports Complex Special Services District, the Stadium Community Council, the Veterans Stadium Neighbors Civic Association, and the Whitman Council.
“The agreement provides additional benefits to improve the quality of life, and promote the general safety and welfare of the neighboring communities. We look forward to a close, productive working relationship that maximizes the benefits of our project in their respective markets.”
Cordish’s Pennsylvania adventure is a building block in the evolution of the company’s gaming division. “We’re building a true regional gaming expansion,” he said, “and are committed to continued growth of our gaming business.”