MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Once the epicenter of entertainment in downtown Minneapolis, Block E is now struggling to stay alive.
Now, the developers of the struggling Block E are prepared to join the stadium debate — placing a wager that they could be the saving grace.
From his 28th floor offices in downtown Minneapolis, Bob Lux can see the future. Lux and his business partner, Phillip Jaffe, are promising jobs, tax revenue, large crowds and safety.
They envision a downtown renaissance powered by a high-end casino.
“We want people to come from Fargo or Minot or Sioux Falls. They come because there is a casino and we got the hotels here, but they really experience the entire resort activity of downtown Minneapolis,” said Lux.
Jaffe and Lux say their Block E casino would draw 5.6 million visits a year and 15,000 every day.
Licensed by the state, but privately owned and operated, they say the casino would generate an estimated $600 million in revenues annually. Additionally, it’d all be funded with private — not public — money.
“People got to remember: $100 million payroll, 2,500 full time jobs. That’s a big deal,” said Jaffe.
Block E developers say their casino will draw a completely different crowd than Minnesota’s Indian casinos.
Tribal casinos have older gamblers, while theirs would be younger.
Also, they say the downtown casino is far enough away from Mystic Lake in Shakopee that it wouldn’t affect job levels at either location.
“There’s Whole Foods, and you’ve got Cub. They both draw a very different group of people. Yet, they both serve a very same purpose,” said Lux.
By coincidence, the Block E offices overlook the Linden Ave site in west downtown that some would like to use for the Vikings.
A casino could add critical mass for a new sports and entertainment district.