Credit drtofu66 from the official Pens board
I just got back from the PUMP forum. I'm sure others will post their more detailed thoughts on it, but my quick impressions:
1) Majestic Star presented first. Their main message was that they did not include arena or urban redevlopment plans because they are going by the letter of the gaming legislation (section 13.13c apparently) that says the application will be based on the casino's merit and revenue generation and that specifically including ancillary things like development would somehow disqualify the application. BUT-- they have been dedicated to their other cities and they have every intention to give back to this community as well (he said that they'd make Pittsburgh the crown jewel in their gaming group's plans). Point of emphasis was the ease of access to their northside site (right off 2 major highways and close to the stadia and science center). No committment to plan B, other than "we'll be glad to discuss things". He also showed a nice video mock-up of their proposal (pretty much like what Pittsburgh First has on their website). One person asked about traffic studies to each applicant-- would your group be willing to contribute to pay for an independent traffic study, essentially. The answer was an emphatic yes, and incidentally noted that the industry standard for persons/car is 1.5 and that any study that puts more than 1.5 people in a car should be viewed as suspect. Not a bad presentation overall and I actually can see some merit to the Northside being the site of a casino. And I think it's good that this group is there to further poke holes in the FC group's proposal along with Pittsburgh First.
2) Harrah's FC was next. I know I'm biased, but they appeared to put very little effort into their presentation. Their message was (and this was stated over and over) "the joining of two world class companies". Many slides showing Harrah's to have higher revenue, a bigger market cap, investment grade bonds compared to the other two (Barden is private, so some of the comparisons don't really hold), 40 million customer database, etc. And FC's chair won some development award. If you read Rev Simms' letter and the points he addressed, you'll have the FC/Harrah's proposal in front of you, except that they did not address any of his points. They still claimed that Harrah's pays its employees $45k/year (even though according to Rev Simms' letter, in KC and similar markets to Pittsburgh they pay the going rate of $27k/year), they are unionized (though not in the markets that they share with IoC-- Biloxi, etc), they are putting twice as much into their casino as IoC (though IoC has said they are putting $400M into their casino and not the $250 that FC seems to be saying), etc. They argued that they will make their casino a DESTINATION and that a slot machine is not, contrary to popular belief, JUST a slot machine that will generate the same revenue no matter where it is (I still don't get this argument, so I won't elaborate further), etc. in line with their "We're Harrah's! We're the biggest, and therefore the best!" partyline. What angered me was they only answered THREE questions post presentation; maybe they took their time answering the questions but that did not seem like 10 minutes. I raised my hand each time and didn't get to ask my question about their revenue projections and what they'd do if they missed like they did in New Orleans. The traffic question was asked again-- yes, they'd be interested in an independent traffic study. When posed with the question of the 1.5 people/car being industry standard and what the first applicant said about viewing any studies with >1.5 people/car as suspect, they said the numbers were based on Harrah's figures and other doubletalk (as if going to a Harrah's casino will pack more people into cars as opposed to going to another casino in the same town, I guess). The best part: when asked if they knew how many people per car their traffic study assumed, they said that THEY DIDN'T KNOW. --BZZZT-- *Point deduction from FC* for BS or just plain being unprepared. The answer is 2.5. Shame on them for that.
3) The IoC/Pittsburgh First was last. Rev Simms gave it with an IoC rep. They showed their video from the website, then Rev Simms explained the proposal was as much about redeveloping the Hill and revilaizing Pittsburgh as anything else. They feel that that the casinos will generate roughly the same amount of revenue. Theirs won't be the biggest casino, but it will be the best one. The proximity to downtown, the arena, and the convention center will be a draw to the casino. IoC will start a development fund as has been stated in the Trib and PG a month or so ago. We all know the rest here, not much would be new to us.
I talked to 3 other forum attendees and they all slanted to the IoC proposal which was good to hear. None viewed SS as a 'good' site to put a casino and all felt that the Hill development was a great reason to go with IoC. Now, if only the GCB will view it the same way. PUMP applied to speak to the GCB with the views of the people who attended tonight presented which can only help IoC if the 3 people I talked to and the vibe of how IoC's presentation was received was any indication.