Riverfront Casino Faces Delays

City officials and members of a nonprofit group in Pittsburgh are grumbling over news that plans for a riverfront casino currently under development could change.

Developers for the $780 million Majestic Star Casino have proposed delaying the construction of a 1,000-seat amphitheatre, boat dock, riverfront paths and landscaping until three years after the casino opens, according to the Pittsburgh Business Times.

Construction work on the site has reportedly halted because of the slowdown in the market and payments to contractors have lagged pending additional funding.

Mayor Luke Ravenstahl argued the riverfront portion of the development was one of the key selling points for the city.

"I am not willing to compromise the development in a way that negatively impacts the riverfront and the city," he told the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. "It is my responsibility to ensure that the city of Pittsburgh and its citizens receive what was originally promised to us."

Lisa Schroeder, executive director for the Riverlife nonprofit group, questioned what the delay would mean to the project.

"We are deeply concerned that the proposed changes to the project will postpone – and ultimately may eliminate – the amphitheatre, the docking areas and the accessible ramp and pathway connections from the water’s edge to the casino promenade," she said in a statement.

Bob Oltmanns, spokesman for developer Don Barden, told the Tribune-Review there was no cause for concern over the minor delays as Barden is in the process of securing a $120 million funding injection.

"We are not proposing to change the design in any material way from what we’ve proposed to the city or the Gaming Control Board," Oltmanns said. "When fully completed, the project will look exactly the way it was proposed to the city and the Gaming Control Board."

The casino is expected to open in May 2009.