We’ve seen several plans for Carolina Crossroads backfire and now there is a chance with the state’s help that the misfires of the past can be fine-tuned to get the entertainment district running smoothly through the proposed casino legislation.
When the plans fall apart Roanoke Rapids becomes the butt of jokes and a council with only one member who still sits on the panel when the concept was originally approved continues to be vilified as the scapegoats for the seemingly constant failures and the insipid cries of the unenlightened to burn the place to the ground.
The truth is, this council that constantly gets mocked is the one that has done the most within its power to get relief from the overpowering debt, either through restructuring or through help from the legislature.
This is why we implore the state of North Carolina to help turn things around for that promising piece of land and designate the Carolina Crossroads Entertainment District as a site for one of the casinos that is currently under discussion by lawmakers.
We would also implore the Halifax County Board of Commissioners, as Roanoke Rapids did Wednesday, to Monday approve that same resolution supporting the city’s efforts to land a casino in the entertainment district.
It should be a given: The theater is clearly visible north and south on the interstate, the new owners have done a yeoman’s job in cutting down the front brush that is only a few yards from 95 and most importantly, the infrastructure is already in place, planned infrastructure which the often-maligned visionaries behind the original concept had the foresight to get in place with plans for big things.
While the big things didn’t work out, while those who tried to run the venue foundered, no one can argue that the sounds produced in the theater are just as crisp as larger venues, and that the land around it is a success story waiting to happen.
When it comes to gambling North Carolina has always been behind the eight ball and has watched as its residents flock to Virginia — first for lottery tickets and now casinos with one in Danville making millions operating under a tent.
While we are not gamblers, we hold nothing against the ones that do because it has always been our steadfast belief that there are certain things that can’t and shouldn’t be legislated — how people spend their money and the moral choices of adult men and women.
Now the state has a chance to reverse the traffic going to the tent casino in Danville or the casino in Portsmouth and it has a chance to do right for northeastern North Carolina by allowing a casino in the Carolina Crossroads Entertainment District.
It’s no secret that the city needs the money and the only other way to raise funds for pay increases, street and other improvements is through a tax increase, which the council has been hesitant to do, or seeking a sales tax increase that would apply to not only residents but folks traveling through the area.
With estimates of $3.8 million in excise taxes alone from the tent in Danville in June and July, we can only imagine how that boost to a city like Roanoke Rapids with just over a $16 million annual budget would help to improve the city’s year-to-year shoestring operations.
It is potentially game-changing legislation that state lawmakers should adopt and as their first order of business designate Carolina Crossroads as a casino site.
From the information that has surfaced thus far about the proposed legislation, Roanoke Rapids definitely fits the bill since we certainly are an area east of Interstate 77 and smack dab in a county traversed by I-95.
The stiff investment requirements contained in the proposed legislation virtually eliminate what can be cast as iffy purchase or lease offers of the past.
“This is going to be done by outside business investors that are going to commit $25 million to apply,” Roanoke Rapids attorney Bill White said at last week’s joint meeting of the planning board and city council. “If that doesn’t cut away the fly by night (deals) and whatever else, I don’t know what else does.”
In addition to the proposed $25 million fee as a credit against future excise taxes, there is the requirement of a 30-year gaming license, the creation of 1,750 new jobs and a minimum investment in the district of $500 million.
This means there will be some heavy hitters in the gaming industry vying for a casino in the Carolina Crossroads Entertainment District.
With the theater now in the capable hands of the owner of Weldon Mills Distillery and with BarnBurner Productions at the helm of booking shows, that only strengthens the argument that should this legislation pass, and we encourage legislators to enact it, that there is only one logical place in this part of the state to locate a casino and that’s Carolina Crossroads.
And that’s simply because we’ve seen several plans for Carolina Crossroads backfire and now there is a chance the misfires of the past can be fine-tuned to get the entertainment district running smoothly. — Editor