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Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Any News is Good News...

The June 30th deadline has come and gone for Don Barden to get financing for the Casino and pay contractors so that work will not come to a halt on construction of the North Shore Casino. Here is where we are at. Work has stopped, but Barden has kind of received nearly all of the 780 million dollar funding. The Pittsburgh Post Gazette reports work on the North Shore slots parlor came to a halt yesterday after Don Barden failed to come up with $10 million needed to keep construction going, even as he announced he had secured a $120 million investment in the project from a company headed by a Chicago billionaire and fellow casino owner. Even with the $120 million, Barden is still 30 million short of the 780 million that was estimated as the cost to build the entertainment center. In addition to finalizing the $120 million investment from Walton Street, Mr. Barden also will be working to close on more than $600 million in funding arranged through international lender Credit Suisse during the same time frame. At a late afternoon news conference, Bob Oltmanns, casino spokesman, estimated that the work stoppage would last from a "matter of days" to one to two weeks while Mr. Barden races to complete and close on $780 million in financing, a task that has eluded him for more than two months. The stoppage came even with the 120 million in equity secured by Walton Street Capital. The contractors had given Barden till the end of June, and since Barden's financing is not yet permanent all work has stopped. All of the funding still needs to be reviewed and approved by the states gaming board who meets again July 10th ( it is uncertain weather financing will be part of that meeting).

This may seem like good news at this point since all we have heard over the last couple months was concerns over the Casino's future, but Barden also announced plans on scaling back many amenities of the casino, which were the selling points for the State Gaming Control Board in awarding the license. Barden is delaying plans for construction of an outdoor amphitheater and boat dock at his North Shore casino and is altering the look of a riverfront promenade, all in a bid to save money. This is making the Riverlife Task Force (who?) upset and only adding to the general anxiety over the casino that is suppose to open in 2009. Pittsburgh was sold on a state of the art first class casino, and what we may end up with is something no better than the Bonanza Casino in Reno Nevada!!

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