D'Iberville Unphased By Casino Snub - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

10/21/04

D'Iberville Unphased By Casino Snub

According to Jacobs Entertainment president Steve Roark, "We don't have the resources to build what we think we need to build to be competitive in that market." So it terminated its back bay casino plans.

Jacobs became the fifth developer to tease D'Iberville with casino plans, and then pull the rug out from under the city. The other four were Spectrum, Imperial Palace, the Alan Paulson group, and Harrah's.

City leaders called the Jacobs announcement nothing more than a temporary setback. They said someday soon, they would woo a casino to their shoreline.

"Yes, D'Iberville will be a casino town," councilman at large Oliver Diaz said. "Emphatically it will be, because we want it. And we need it."

But D'Iberville just found out another casino developer has spurned the city. So the still waters of D'Iberville's back bay won't be disturbed by a Jacobs Entertainment casino barge.

"We weren't really disappointed because we didn't want a second class, or a secondary casino in the city," Diaz said.

According to Diaz, Jacobs recently proposed a second class project when the casino developer reduced its D'Iberville resort plans from 400 rooms to just 100. "If we don't have first class, we don't necessarily want one," he said.

D'Iberville's mayor said the city had no interest in a developer who would duck away from its back bay casino commitment.

"There are too many other casinos out there that want to come into this market," said Rusty Quave.

During the city's recent negotiations with Jacobs, D'Iberville leaders agreed to almost $9 million in infrastructure and tax break concessions that Diaz said the city later regretted.

"I hate to say we were desperate, but we wanted a casino here," he said, "and we did make some concessions that maybe shouldn't have been made."

So Jacobs decision to drop its D'Iberville casinos plans gives the city another chance to correct its negotiating mistake. But that will only happen if a new developer floats a D'Iberville casino in the waters immediately west of I-110.

Jacobs president Steve Roark said D'Iberville no longer "made financial sense to take the risk."

Mayor Quave didn't understand what risk Roark referred to.

"I think it's a very good site," the mayor said.

According to Diaz, "Somebody will step right up to the plate. And we won't have to give away the keys to the city to get them in here."

Diaz said at least four companies that have already expressed an interest in the D'Iberville site. Mayor Quave believes one of them will take over the back bay site, and follow the construction schedule proposed by the Jacobs group.

If that's true, D'Iberville casino construction west of I-110 will begin in July.

by Brad Kessie

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