“Cannibalization” is the word used by both state-hired firms to describe the addition of a casino in Cedar Rapids. I spent 23 years as chairman of the original Five Seasons Center Commission and never heard the term cannibalization when the Quad Cities built the Mark or Des Moines the Wells Fargo Arena or when the UNI Dome and Carver Hawkeye entered the entertainment business by hosting concerts.
We were forced to revise how we did business and look to fill a market niche that would redefine our facility as a host facility for different types of entertainment. We didn’t cry foul or seek relief from the state or anyone else. We (the taxpayers) adapted to the competition.
We, as now, were publicly owned. As a property-owning taxpayer in Cedar Rapids I can’t think of a better amenity, within walking distance of our convention center and hotel, than the proposed casino. We as a community will benefit from conventions that will come to Cedar Rapids that would never consider us without the casino.
I certainly understand the need to protect private investors who put their personal finances into a casino. But is that protection forever? How much profit from their investment is enough? Why should our non-profits be denied the opportunity to share in the revenue ($2.4 million per year) of this privately owned for-profit facility?