Kehl breaks ground on land-based Rhythm City Casino

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Riverboat gambling is coming to an end in the Quad Cities.

On Thursday, June 4, 2015, developer Dan Kehl and Davenport leaders officially broke ground on a new, land-based Rhythm City Casino.

Dirt has already been moving, though, at the site near I-80 and I-74. An opening is planned for Memorial Day weekend of 2016.

“I think you’ll see things go pretty quick out here,” said Kehl.

The $110-million project includes a gaming floor, 106-room hotel, spa, fine dining restaurant, buffet, show lounge and event center. Kehl says moving off the Mississippi River will offer a better experience for visitors, as well.

“Definitely easier access, a more comfortable facility, more of a resort, a destination. It’s a lot different than the old days of the riverboats, that’s for sure,” said Kehl.

The move to land marks a new era in gaming. Just two weeks ago, the Isle of Capri broke ground on its own land-based casino in Bettendorf.

“If you imagine back 25 years ago, when we first started talking about riverboat gambling as a way to revive the river communities, they put a lot of restrictions, and nobody knew what it was all going to be about,” said Kehl. “Just to see the growth and changes over the years has been amazing.”

Kehl says Rhythm City currently employs around 400 people. He expects to double that number once the new casino is built.

The project is also expected to anchor Davenport’s expansion to the north. The city has applied for state funding to help create the “River 80” entertainment district nearby, and on Friday, Mills Chevrolet will break ground on a new car dealership off an extended Elmore Avenue.

“This road will lead to some $250 million in new tax base for the city of Davenport, a record amount in one area,” said Mayor Bill Gluba.

Discussions about moving Rhythm City off the river date back to 2005, and at times, controversy plagued the process.

Thursday, Kehl said he was excited to finally reach this point.

“I knew it would come. I just didn’t expect… it seems a little surreal to be here today,” said Kehl.

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