The regional government of Madrid has reportedly poured cold water on a plan that would have seen American casino operator The Cordish Companies construct a $2.2 billion leisure and entertainment complex on the outskirts of the Spanish capital.
According to a report from the Financial Times newspaper, the family-owned firm announced in December its intention to build its Madrid Live! complex complete with hotels, theaters, cinemas and convention centers as well as shopping, restaurant and gaming facilities on 331 acres of land next to the city’s Madrid-Barajas Airport. The Cordish Companies, which operates facilities across the United States including the Maryland Live! Casino near Baltimore, declared at the time that the envisioned development could create approximately 56,000 jobs and bring in about $4.3 billion for the local economy over its first five years.
Despite initially welcoming the project, Madrid’s center-right regional government has now reportedly voted down the proposal as the current plan would have required the city to invest at least $369.9 million to upgrade road and railway links so that people could reach the out-of-town complex.
Engracia Hidalgo, Economy, Employment And Finance Minister for the Madrid government, reportedly explained on Friday that the decision had been taken after a “profound, serious and rigorous” assessment found that the project was not “viable from an economic and organizational point of view”. However, she stressed that the region was “open to investment both domestic and international” and invited The Cordish Companies to resubmit its plan after taking into account the government’s concerns.
The Madrid project was to have been the American firm’s first large-scale development in Europe and The Cordish Companies reportedly proclaimed that it was “optimistic” that the regional government would ultimately come to understand the offer and approve its application.
“The project is extremely important to the regional Madrid economy,” read a Friday statement from Baltimore-based The Cordish Companies. “The shame for the citizens of Spain in any delay is that we are prepared to immediately deliver the project with construction commencing the second quarter [of] 2018.”
Madrid’s decision means that The Cordish Companies has become the second high-profile American developer to fall short in the Spanish capital after Las Vegas Sands Corporation was forced to drop a $30 billion plan to build a gambling and entertainments complex for the area of 6.5 million people three years ago. This project was to feature an avenue of skyscrapers as well as twelve resorts and six casinos offering some 18,000 slots but reportedly became bogged down in political controversy largely associated with the Las Vegas-based firm’s demand for tax breaks.
“We feel that the Spanish economy is improving year after year and that the Madrid economy in particular is strong and getting stronger,” Joseph Weinberg, Chief Executive Officer for The Cordish Companies told the Financial Times last year. “We are hitting this at the right time.”
Weinberg additionally reportedly declared at the time that the Madrid Live! proposal would not suffer from the same objections as plagued Las Vegas Sands Corporation as his firm’s concept and its mixture of businesses were “very different from previous attempts”.
“The government does not understand our application in two major respects,” read the Friday statement from The Cordish Companies. “One, we make no requests for any public infrastructure nor any public subsidy by the government and in fact none is needed. Two, we are fully committed to a total build-out of a massive $2.2 billion integrated resort.”