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Hard Rock International Joins Rensselaer Casino Plan

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Hard Rock Cafe has dropped into the competition for a regional casino on a 24-acre site along the banks of the Hudson River.

De Laet's Landing in the city of Rensselaer is where Hard Rock International, with partners David Flaum and Capital Region OTB, would like to site a $150 to $200 million gambling resort. Earlier this month, the common council voted 6 to 1 approving the casino project. Rensselaer Mayor Dan Dwyer:  "That name is going to draw a lot of people." 

Dwyer tells NewsChannel13 he's certain Hard Rock could launch "a very successful venue" in his city...   "The roads lead to Rensselaer. I already had a traffic study. We're ready to go. We're shovel ready. We'll be in operation probably in a year or a year and a half."

Hard Rock is an internationally recognized brand, but recently was rejected by voters in West Springfield, Massachusetts, in the battle for the lone western Massachusetts casino license. Other projects are proposed for nearby East Greenbush, Schenectady, Amsterdam and Howes Cave.   The facility would be a fiscal boost for Rensselaer, where, similar to the situation in Albany, many properties are tax-exempt.

For Albany Common Council President Carolyn McLaughlin, Hard Rock offers concrete hopes for the capital city, which saw a proposal for Exit 23 on the Albany side of the river come and go.   "I was very public about the fact that I was disappointed that we missed out on the opportunity to at least be in the running for a location of a casino in Albany. So I wanted to make sure that I found out what's going on over there, as I am also staying tuned to what's happening up in East Greenbush. Again, a move further away from Albany but still it has some effect on the economic opportunities in Albany."

Dave Lucas :  "After attending the meeting last night, what did you come away with? Are you optimistic?"

Caroyln McLaughlin :  "I was impressed with their philanthropic activities at Hard Rock corporation, and I believe if they are fortunate enough to be located in Rensselaer that Rensselaer's going to have an opportunity to grow and to really do some great things for their city, and I would hope that some of that would spill over into Albany."

Rensselaer residents who attended the announcement are perhaps more willing to embrace a gambling complex than their East Greenbush neighbors, many of whom have been fighting the Saratoga Casino and Raceway proposal to build on Thompson Hill.  The clock is ticking toward the New York State Gaming Commission's June 30th deadline for all Capital Region casino applications to be filed.

Dave Lucas is WAMC’s Capital Region Bureau Chief. Born and raised in Albany, he’s been involved in nearly every aspect of local radio since 1981. Before joining WAMC, Dave was a reporter and anchor at WGY in Schenectady. Prior to that he hosted talk shows on WYJB and WROW, including the 1999 series of overnight radio broadcasts tracking the JonBenet Ramsey murder case with a cast of callers and characters from all over the world via the internet. In 2012, Dave received a Communicator Award of Distinction for his WAMC news story "Fail: The NYS Flood Panel," which explores whether the damage from Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee could have been prevented or at least curbed. Dave began his radio career as a “morning personality” at WABY in Albany.
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