About three months from now, the Horseshoe Casino will open in downtown Cincinnati. The third of four casinos in the state, the Horseshoe will be bringing with it a sign reminiscent of the neon clad Las Vegas strip. However, this is Cincinnati, NOT Cin-Vegas.
|- Cincinnati's Horseshoe Casino as seen while looking down Central Parkway.|
In November 2009, voters elected to amend the state of Ohio's constitution to permit the construction of four casinos in the cities of Cleveland, Toledo, Columbus and Cincinnati. Until this vote, casinos had been outlawed in the state. When Issue 3 passed, local and state governments saw an opportunity for increased revenues that the gambling sites would bring and construction quickly began.
|- Cincinnati's Horseshoe Casino at the former Broadway Commons site nearing completion.|
Cincinnati's is scheduled to open on March 4th, 2013, the third to open in the state. The vote to approve casinos in Ohio was historic and unique. Similar gambling measures had failed in 2006 and 2008. The 2009 vote actually amended the state constitution to permit Penn National Gambling to build and operate the four casinos, essentially granting them a monopoly. Casinos are only legal in Ohio at these four specific locations. Many voters viewed this as a necessary step to opening up full gambling legalization.
|- The Horseshoe Casino's facade under construction.|
At the time of the vote, I was still an Ohio resident before I moved right across the river for school. I voted in favor of Issue 3 and I still stand by that decision today.
I saw the casino as a chance to open up revenue and development not just in the state, but Cincinnati as well.
I'm not morally opposed to casinos in any way. If people want to gamble, I believe you have the right to spend your money how you'd like. I thought it was pointless and counter-productive when the "moral authority" opposed gambling in state law - when I could just go to the next state over and hop on a boat to play some blackjack.
Casino gambling is incredibly popular and brings in a lot of money. Not to mention, having the casino downtown would be even more reason for people to come to the city. It opens up the potential for new hotels to be developed, new restaurants and other nearby businesses. Downtown in 2009 was, and still is, continuing to prosper and grow. In my eyes, the casino is just another thing to add to that success - even if it's a place I'll rarely go to (gambling and Jimmy Buffett aren't at the top of my personal interests). I respect that other people enjoy it and I can see the benefit it brings.
If anything, it was finally doing something with that awful Broadway Commons parking lot. I would've preferred a new arena, but with no NHL or NBA team - that certainly wasn't happening anytime soon.
So the casino, I welcomed it!
|- The site of the Horseshoe Casino before construction.|
Despite my support for the casino, I certainly had some reservations. I may not regularly attend casinos, but I do spend a lot of time in the Over-The-Rhine and Pendleton neighborhoods that the casino would border. These neighborhoods are artsy, packed with bars and events, and feature some of the most beautiful architecture in the city. I would've hated to see a terrible looking, shopping mall-esque casino border historic neighborhoods.
Thankfully, the casino that came ended up meshing with the city nicely.
I'm no urban planner or architect, but in the end I was happy with the design chosen for the casino. It's non-obtrusive on the skyline, low to the ground, has a beautiful glass facade and curves with the rest of the buildings on Central Parkway - which separates the neighborhoods and Central Business District.
|- Historic neighborhood architecture on the left, the front entrance of the casino on the right.|
|- The Horseshoe Casino's parking garage.|
Then the casino in Cleveland opened, completely renovating the formerly underutilized Higbee building. The end result was beautiful, fitting in nicely with Cleveland's downtown:
|- Horseshoe Casino in downtown Cleveland. Photograph via Flickr user Mike Waterhouse.|
And then... things changed.
The Cincinnati casino brought forward the idea of erecting a large sign. Lit with LED's, the sign would be evoking the bright neon lights and colors of casino signs typically seen in Las Vegas, the gambling capital of the nation. It would be of similar design to the other Horseshoe casinos in the country, with the exception of Cleveland.
At a hearing over the summer, the Cincinnati zoning board shot down the casino's request.
|- Rendering of the sign the casino wishes to build.|
But on Monday December 10th, 2012, a meeting of Cincinnati City Council's Budget and Finance Committee voted in favor of allowing the sign. The committee features all nine members of council and an official vote will take place at the full council meeting on December 14th, 2012. Given that all the members pledged support at the committee meeting, the vote on Friday will most likely pass unanimously.
|- Rendering of the proposed sign.|
In the past five years, Cincinnati City Council has done some great things. I like the direction most council members want to take the city (note that I said most council members). However, I don't understand the support for this awful looking sign.
Casino officials say it is needed to attract visitors from I-71 and I-471, but in a day of GPS and online directions, is anyone going to have trouble finding this place? Not to mention, the location is pretty convenient off of multiple highway exits and will undoubtedly have street signage directing visitors.
I've photographed the Cincinnati skyline a lot, especially with my ongoing 224 Views of Cincinnati project. Our skyline has a nice mix of architecture and non-obtrusive corporate branding on top of the skyscrapers. One of the best views of the skyline can be seen entering the city via I-71 South as you come around the hills and are presented with a wide view of just how large Downtown Cincinnati really is.
|- If built, the proposed sign would be seen on the right side of this photograph.|
Is a tacky, 80 ft. sign really needed?
This is Cincinnati, not Las Vegas. There's only one casino in this city and there will only be one for the foreseeable future. Why does our casino need a sign reminiscent of the Vegas strip?
|- The lights of the Las Vegas strip. Photograph by Flickr user Fabio Miola.|
Let's face it, this sign looks awful.
Not only does it not fit with the Cincinnati Skyline and surrounding area, but it doesn't even fit in with the casino itself. It looks like something reserved for a suburban casino in the fields of Indiana. Speaking of which, this is how the 110ft. variety of the sign looks like in Hammond, Indiana outside of Chicago:
|- Photograph via Flickr user Phatasmagoria.|
Maybe a sign like this works well in the suburb of Hammond (it doesn't), but why would you build something like this in the middle of an urban environment?
How will it look when the lights start to go out?
|- Hammond Indiana Horseshoe Casino sign.|
"Developers assured city officials the LED illumination accentuates the sign's color without pushing out the light."
Officials also told the Cincinnati Enquirer that the pink and black design with four foot lettering...
"is special to Cincinnati – the first of its kind.”
You don't say! Maybe Skyline Chili will even alter their logo to reflect this one-of-a-kind amazing design:
|- Altered Skyline Chili logo reflecting the addition of the Horseshoe Casino sign.|
I understand the need to advertise location, but is this ridiculous looking sign really the way to go about that?
|- Location of where the sign will go.|
Frankly, this is a terrible idea.
|- The sign's proximity to I-71. At 80 ft. tall, it will be clearly visible from the highway.|
For the record, I still support the casino and think it will be a great asset to the city, but their sign certainly won't.
|- The neighborhood of Pendleton across the parking lot from where the sign will be erected.|
In a few years, if you ever forget where the casino is, may this sign be your guiding light to take your Grandma to play the slot machines.
|- OTR and the casino.|