By Jeff “Laca” Conway
As the Pelota Press speculated, an agreement has been reached with the owners of Magic City Casino and the Miami City Commissioners to move forward with plans to open another jai-alai fronton and card room just a few miles east of their existing fronton. The city commissioners voted 4-1 and now only need the signature of Mayor Francis Suarez to sign off on it for final approval.
West Flagler Associates have been on a long journey to get another gambling facility built – this one in the booming Edgewater district of downtown Miami (see my previous blog for complete details). The agreement was also approved by Miami civic leader Norman Braman, whose group had filed a lawsuit to stop the gambling facility from opening.
During last Thursday’s city commissioners meeting West Flagler principal owner Isadore “Izzy” Havenick said that any opposition against jai alai and a card room was based on a false presumption that it was being run by organized crime. “this is not the 1940s anymore and the days of Meyer Lansky” Izzy told everyone. “Anyone who characterizes it as a full blown casino is not genuine. All those disingenuous statements are not valid anymore.”
Another vote was taken just before the approval of the settlement that prevented West Flagler Associates from expanding the site into a full-blown casino with slot machines. With that vote, everything fell into place. With Braman no longer opposing the jai-alai fronton and card room, it is believed Miami Mayor Suarez will not veto the settlement agreement. Last year the Mayor had vetoed a previous agreement.
The fronton will be located at 3030 Biscayne Blvd. Only one commissioner, Ken Russell, who represents the Edgewater district, voted against the settlement agreement and failed to convince the other commissioners to vote against it. “I really believe we should deny the settlement. I really believe we have a case”, Russel said. Whether that is true or not, we will never know. Kudos to the folks at Magic City for pulling this one off. It could have dragged in the already delayed court system for years.
Photo credits to Getty, iStock and The Real Deal, the excellent South Florida Real Estate Newspaper.