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Block E casino bill rumored at Legislature

The solution for Block E?
The solution for Block E?

Is a high-end casino the answer to Block E's problems, or a problem waiting to happen? Either way, the Legislature may soon chime in on the destiny of the downtown Minneapolis development that has never found its mojo.

Block E's new owner, Alatus, first floated the idea of a gambling establishment in downtown Minneapolis back in February, "a limited-footprint, sophisticated, best-in-class gaming component similar in style and experience to the Bellagio or Wynn" in Las Vegas.

Now that idea, even though not approved by any regulatory body, has managed to creep into plans just unveiled by Albersman & Armstrong and investor Bruce Lambrecht that propose a new Vikings stadium just west of Target Field. MPR posted the slide from the presentation that included the casino this morning. Now, however, it looks like the Lambrecht proposal has been scrubbed to take out the casino reference.

MPR captured a slide that showed a casino as part of a Vikings stadium plan proposed by Albersman & Armstrong and investor Bruce Lambrecht, at left. But references to the casino appear to have been scrubbed in the current presentation.
MPR captured a slide that showed a casino as part of a Vikings stadium plan proposed by Albersman & Armstrong and investor Bruce Lambrecht, at left. But references to the casino appear to have been scrubbed in the current presentation.

It sounds like a bill to consider the casino may drop in Legislature before the end of the week, and face some thorny legal issues.

"I heard that there's a proposal to do some job creation by a casino being placed in downtown Minneapolis," DFL Rep. Bobby Jo Champion on Minneapolis told MPR today. "I did have some thoughts, without seeing any legislation, (about) how do we think about our relationship between the state and the tribes."

Block E opened in 2002, after a $134 million investment by McCaffery Interest of Chicago and Hard Rock Cafe, and $38.5 million from taxpayers, but it's shed tenants and owners since then. Alatus bought the complex in July for about $14 million.

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