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Davenport casino board plans to expand, interview developers

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Work continues on Davenport's $46 million deal to buy Rhythm City Casino while developing a new community-owned, land-based casino.

Davenport's casino deal includes promising choices and difficult decisions. Colorful renderings from three proposals showcase the options. There's everything from downtown dreams to interstate intrigue.

"Make sure that we understand fully what the proposals include in terms of not just potential revenue, but really more importantly, potential risks," said Kelli Grubbs, selected to chair the Davenport Community Improvement Corporation.

The board is ramping up for casino interviews on January 7. There are three proposals to consider. All of the candidates have made past investments in the city.

The day-long session will allow for presentations and discussion. Participants hope to select a developer by late February.

"Financially, where the investment is going to come from the private side," Grubbs continued. "And what the expectations are for what the city is going to provide."

The DCIC also plans to boost its membership from seven to nine. It hopes to recruit people without city ties who can crunch numbers and identify any red flags in the process.

Behind the scenes work continues on Tuesday, January 8. That's when the Davenport delegation will tour Dubuque casinos and talk with gaming and city leaders. It's a chance to compare notes and learn.

"The real difference is, does the money go outside the community, or does it stay in the community?" said Mary Ellen Chamberlin, a DCIC member and Riverboat Development Authority leader. "I think that's the key question."

It's a complicated scenario that also involves Iowa and the Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission. Davenport wants to be strongly positioned for the decision.

"We're one of the few in the state that's still sitting there with our 1991 product," Chamberlin concluded. "If we don't move forward, I don't know what the future will be."

A future that includes building the right game plan for a Davenport jackpot.

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