Sleeping Giant Group officials answer questions about proposed Hayden casino project
Sleeping Giant Group discusses Hayden casino project with CDP
If you go...
Who: The Sleeping Giant Group
What: Community meeting about a proposed casino in Hayden
When: 5:30 p.m. Thursday
Where: Moffat County Fairgrounds Pavilion
On Thursday, the Sleeping Giant Group will host it’s first community meeting in Craig about its proposed Hayden casino. The meeting begins at 5:30 p.m. at the Moffat County Fairgrounds Pavilion.
SGG partners Johnny Spillane and Steve Hofman on Wednesday sat down with the Craig Daily Press to discuss some of the concerns already raised by members of the Yampa Valley community.
Below is an excerpt from that conversation.
Craig Daily Press: Are there any plans to propose this project to Moffat and Routt County residents in the form of a ballot question?
Steve Hofman: “The answer is whatever the communities want us to do we’ll be in favor of that, there’s no question. The only thing I would say is there is a political process. My judgment is to hold some hearings, bring some project people in, invite some folks from other communities who have done this well and know the issues, and try to find some of the communities that didn’t do it so well and find out where they made their mistakes. There is a political process in place that is available rather than, initially, a straight up and down vote. What we want, if there is to be a vote, is for people to make an informed vote.”
Johnny Spillane: “I think that’s the most important point. If we were to have a vote there’s no point in having one now because we’re not far enough along in the process. We need to let people know what this project is, how they can benefit and address some of the negative stuff as well. That’s part of what this community outreach is all about.”
CDP: What research have you done to predict and/or increased crime?
JS: “To start off, that’s a notion that doesn’t necessarily have any truth to it. If you look at other communities similar to what we have, where casinos rely on the tourism industry, the increase in crime really doesn’t happen. Obviously you’re going to take measures to offset anything you possibly can and that will be part of the process as we move forward.”
CDP: What affect would a casino have on other tourist attractions in the Yampa Valley?
JS: “There’s so much to do in Craig, Hayden and Steamboat. There’s such a big tourist industry for outdoorsmen, for skiers, hunters and fishermen, and I’m all three of those. I know I also like to gamble and I know a lot of my friends like to also. So, it’s an alternative means of entertainment that piggy backs off what we already offer. We’re not just taking the existing tourist base and moving it to Hayden, we’re adding to it for everybody, which is what is most exciting for me.”
SH: “And I also think there is a generational shift in how families use their leisure time. I can take my own family as an example. When I first started coming to the Yampa Valley with my family we would be active all day and then crash as a family. Today’s younger families are different. They’re very active during the day, but they also want to do things at night. If you don’t have those kinds of options for people they’ll go to places that do. Ultimately this is a competitive question for the valley because it really is about enhancing the existing assets we have in a competitive way.”
CDP: What affect will a casino have on Yampa Valley’s labor pool?
SH: “At the end of the day we believe the labor market needs to be more normalized here, so that working families don’t always have to work a couple of jobs and have long commutes in order to provide for their families. If the casino, or any big development project, can help them better manage their lives we think that is a net plus, not only for them and their families, but also for the entire valley.”
CDP: What affect will a casino have on the Yampa Valley’s image as a family friendly destination?
JS: “As opposed to people just taking our word for it we want to present them with the information that says the majority of these fears are never realized. Instead of me just sitting here and telling you that’s not going to happen, let’s look at the information. That’s part of what the web site (www.sleepinggiantgroup.com) is for, to hopefully spread some of this information around.”
SH: “It’s not a bad thing that people have concerns. When people raise concerns you get them on the table from the beginning. We appreciate the fact that people are raising these concerns because that says to us we have to be mindful, day in and day out, of those things and provide people with real answers to their concerns."