DAN GILBERT - A TWO-TIMER - 3-TIMER, 4-TIMER?

Submitted by Roldo on Tue, 10/13/2009 - 14:47.

What do we really know about Dan Gilbert? Not much. But it sounds as if he’s the kind of guy that plays one city off against another for his own benefit.

I think anyone with any sense understands what Gilbert is about.

 

A columnist in the Detroit News questions Gilbert’s motives about his dedication to Detroit (oh, not Cleveland?).

 

“Dan Gilbert, the self-proclaimed Detroiter working big plans for his diverse business empire, remains bullish on his hometown,” writes Daniel Howes.

 

Howes says that Gilbert – who supposedly located a few jobs here – plans to locate his headquarters for Quicken Loans in downtown Detroit, along with other business activities. That’s 2,000 jobs, they say, for Detroit.

 

“But there’s potentially big money to be made down in Ohio where Gilbert, the principal owner of the Cleveland Cavaliers, is a prominent force behind a ballot initiative (Vote NO on 3) to green light casinos for the Buckeye State’s four largest cities. Bullishness, it seems, has limits when opportunity knocks,” writes Howes.

 

He goes on: “The bottom lines for Gilbert are that casinos will come to Ohio, surrounded as it is with gaming in Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Indiana and Michigan. And, second, that Detroit’s casinos can effectively compete with new rivals in Ohio – especially Toledo – because they are already competing against Michigan’s roughly 20 casinos outside the southeast corner. That’s debatable, too.”

 

The bottom line is that Gilbert is interested not in Detroit, Toledo or Cleveland. He’s interested in the bottom line. HIS.

 

The entire column follows:

 

Ohio gaming tests Detroit boosters

 

Dan Gilbert, the self-proclaimed Detroiter working big plans for his diverse business empire, remains bullish on his hometown.

It's where he plans to locate the corporate headquarters of his Quicken Loans Inc. next spring. It's the struggling downtown he says he wants to help with innovative development that makes a difference. The beleaguered city also is a transnational hub for Vegas-style gaming in the Midwest, home to MGM Grand, MotorCity Casino, Greektown and, across the river, Casino Windsor.

But there's potentially big money to be made down in Ohio, where Gilbert, the principal owner of the Cleveland Cavaliers, is a prominent force behind a ballot initiative to greenlight casinos for the Buckeye State's four largest cities. Bullishness, it seems, has limits when opportunity knocks.

"I guess it is a little bit ironic," he said in an interview Monday. Adding to the irony is the fact that Gilbert's main man on the Ohio casino effort is Matt Cullen, the General Motors exec-turned-Gilbert guy and arguably the biggest Mr. Detroit this side of the city's official economic development apparatus.

 

Except for one. Also partnering with Gilbert and Cullen is former Detroit Mayor Dennis Archer, assuming the Ohio casino initiative passes and the opportunity for investment becomes real. Archer appeared earlier this month at a forum in Toledo to promote casino gaming in Ohio, testifying that three casinos here provided jobs and economic development but not the feared spike in crime.

The best part: The Detroit guys and their partner, Penn National Gaming Inc. of Wyomissing, Pa., are relying on a "don't-let-your-gambling-dollars-leave-the-state" campaign to persuade Ohioans to approve casinos after four failed tries.

If the homer argument worked for Michigan against Windsor, the thinking goes, why not use it in Ohio against Michigan, Indiana and Pennsylvania -- especially amid tough times with double-digit unemployment?

Right. The locals in Detroit should love this. Start with the Ilitch family, whose interests in Detroit and MotorCity Casino, almost are as old as Gilbert's company. Then come those pushing to get Greektown out of Chapter 11.

Finally, there are Mayor Dave Bing and the government bureaucrats in Detroit and Lansing who depend on Detroit gaming taxes to fatten slimmed-down revenue projections.

"We were kind of just watching this opportunity unfolding in Ohio where we have significant business interests," Gilbert said, confirming that his company expressed preliminary interest in acquiring Greektown Casino out of bankruptcy. "We're about rebuilding the urban cores of the cities we're involved with. It really is something that is not a threat on either side of Lake Erie."

That's debatable. Less so, Gilbert says, are Quicken's plans for Detroit: The mortgage lender still plans to move roughly 2,000 people -- including its executive team -- to a new headquarters in the Compuware building on Campus Martius. Quicken still plans to bring related businesses -- Quicken's title company and Gilbert's Fathead sports marketing company -- and "technology companies" he won't identify.

The bottom lines for Gilbert are that casinos will come to Ohio, surrounded as it is with gaming in Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Indiana and Michigan. And, second, that Detroit's casinos can effectively compete with new rivals in Ohio -- especially Toledo -- because they already are competing against Michigan's roughly 20 casinos outside its southeast corner. That's debatable, too.

Under terms of Ohio's Issue 3, to be considered by voters on Nov. 3, Gilbert would have options to build casinos in Cleveland and Cincinnati. Partner Penn National would have options on projects in Columbus and Toledo, the most likely competitor to Detroit's casinos.

"Gilbert is ... the face of the deal there, no doubt about it," said Jake Miklojcik, a gaming expert who is president of Michigan Consultants Inc. and a temporary board member of Greektown Casino. "There is an impact. It's the leakage that's the issue. And I do think gaming in Ohio is inevitable."

Which tells you everything you need to know.

 

 

 

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Quicken HQ location

The article prompted me to ask, "What is the current location of Quicken's headquarters?" A quick search found that it's Livonia, MI. It appears that the headquarters is moving to Detroit largely because of tax incentives.