Rendell weighs in on Philly casino plans – UPDATED

 Steve Wynn is proposing a casino on this 57-acre lot along the Delaware River in Fishtown (Nathaniel Hamilton/for Newsworks)

Steve Wynn is proposing a casino on this 57-acre lot along the Delaware River in Fishtown (Nathaniel Hamilton/for Newsworks)

Former Philadelphia mayor and former Gov. Ed Rendell says the city shouldn’t approve a casino for the site at Eighth and Market streets, where he sought to build a Disney attraction years ago.

Rendell has no part in the selection process to award a license for a second casino in Philadelphia, but as a former mayor whose administration oversaw dramatic development in Center City, he has his opinions. The one site Rendell said should not become a casino is the Eighth and Market site that he’d chosen in the late ’90s to host a DisneyQuest indoor theme park.

“I wouldn’t want a casino that close to Independence National Historic Park,” Rendell said. “Our history is a family experience, and I wouldn’t want it marred by a casino. It’s the same reason why, when I was governor, I formally opposed a casino in Gettysburg that would have been about a quarter mile from the battlefield.”

Rendell said he thinks DisneyQuest would have complemented the historic area the way the Busch Gardens amusement park adds to the attraction of historic Williamsburg, Virgina.

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The Disney company eventually decided to abandon the Philadelphia project, leaving the site undeveloped.

UPDATE: Rendell actually supported another casino proposal for Market Street a few years ago, but says there were important differences. See that story here.

Rendell said he would prefer to see a casino along the Delaware riverfront, which he said needs development more than Center City. Among those proposals, he said he likes that of casino mogul Steve Wynn for a massive site in Fishtown, a mile north of the existing SugarHouse casino.

“If we’re going to have a second casino, let’s go to the best,” Rendell said. “I’ve never seen Steve Wynn do anything except first class.”

Mayor Michael Nutter hasn’t backed a particular proposal, but his team testifed last week that the two Center City sites have much to recommend them.

The decision will be made by the state Gaming Control Board.

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