Video + Photos: MGM's Exhibition Place Vision
MGM and Cadillac Fairview have unveiled details of a new vision for a casino resort at Exhibition Place.
Toronto hasn't even decided whether or not to host a casino and there has been no formal request for bids, so executives pitched the proposal as a way to show "what is possible."
It's expected the city council will make a decision on the casino question in early April.
The proposal is a three-four billion dollar three million square foot development on city-owned Exhibition Place that would take an estimated three years to complete.
The development would be built on what is now surface parking, displacing about 3500 spots (with an over 10,000 space underground parking garage to be completed).
There would be a 1200 room 15-20 floor hotel, 750,000-1,000,000 square feet of retail space, ten restaurants overlooking Lake Ontario, and a permanent 800-900 seat home to Cirque du Soleil.
The proposal calls for adding a second floor to the Direct Energy Centre, creating an additional 400 thousand square feet of convention and meeting space.
Executives are also proposing expanding BMO field.
The MGM-Cadillac Fairview proposal would see the CNE midway shifted south of Lakeshore Rd. with improved connections between Ontario Place and the Exhibition Place grounds.
All existing buildings on the sites would be maintain, but executives say it would mean an end to the annual CNE casino. MGM is prepared to underwrite the CNE's losses resulting from the closure of that casino for 10 years and is also ready to enter into discussions that could lead to the gaming company subsidizing admission to the tune of several million a year.
CNE President Brian Ashton wasn't happy with what he saw and doesn't think there's a way for both the CNE and MGM to co-exist.
"I think MGM failed to understand the uniqueness of the CNE as an event." he told Newstalk 1010. "They seem to think it's a midway and if you move the midway somewhere everything is fine."
But MGM VP Alan Feldman presented the CNE revamp as an improvement.
"There may be people that miss going to a parking lot to get a hot dog," he said. "If they miss that I guess this won't satisfy them."
Although officials have discussed options with IndyCar they say their plan could see a number of different routes that would allow the annual running of the Honda Indy.
There's a hope that a possible Canadian Music Hall of Fame could be created at Ontario Place and that the existing Molson Amphitheatre could be developed into a year-round venue.
MGM says it would create five thousand construction jobs and ten thousand permanent union jobs upon completion with many salaries checking in at $60,000 dollars a year.
Company officials believe there are aspects of this development that could be bigger and grander but say they've chosen to pitch the project on a smaller scale so not to take away from other similar elements that already exist in Toronto.
MGM and Cadillac Fairview showed off a 3-D model of their plan (one that has been shown to city councillors and key players at city hall) but were not prepared to show it off to the public.
Casino and real-estate big wigs see this as a chance to revamp both Ontario Place and Exhibition Place.
"There is a great opportunity to city build," says Cadillac Fairview VP Wayne Barwise.
They're going to show us a lot of pretty pictures," said Ward 19 Councillor Mike Layton. "This is the industry that gets you into a casino and with flashing lights gets you to pump your money in without any return."