So some councillors and lobbyists are talking casino again, with Exhibition Place as the preferred site. Except that they’ve adopted the grand euphemism of “integrated resort“:
Alan Feldman, senior vice-president of public affairs with MGM, said it could potentially invest $3- to $5-billion on an “integrated resort” in Toronto, which could include about 200,000-square-feet of casino space, 1,000 to 2,000 hotel rooms, 100,000-square-feet of restaurant space, plus entertainment venues.
Sounds grand, but you can scratch Exhibition Place off the list of possible sites; politicians should check on their existing obligations before they go around trying to make new ones. Did you know that there’s already a hotel starting construction soon at Exhibition Place? It was approved in 2009. You may remember the mini-scandal about the contract.
According to my reading of the Letter Agreement between the City and HKHotels back in 2009, HKHotels gets a 49-year lease (plus two 25-year extensions) that gives them:
[…]the exclusive right to operate a hotel:
during the period commencing from the execution of the Lease and ending on the date which is fifteen (15) years after the Rent Commencement Date, within the whole of Exhibition Place; and
during the remainder of the Initial Term, within the portion of Exhibition Place which is located to the east of Ontario Drive.
[“Exclusivity,” page 9 of the PDF]
So no additional hotels (AKA “integrated resorts”) anywhere at Exhibition Place for 15 years, and no additional hotels east of Ontario Drive (between the Better Living Centre and BMO Field) for 34 years after that. An “integrated resort” built 15 years from now would have to destroy buildings or greenspace on the western half of Exhibition Place, and that would probably be even less popular than just tearing up a parking lot.