As people celebrate the fact the shovels went into the ground recently for the new Gateway Casino in Chatham, we feel obligated to remind folks the term “If you build it, they will come,” originated in a work of fiction.
From the movie “Field of Dreams,” the term refers to Iowa farmer Ray Kinsella building a baseball diamond in the middle of his cornfield in response to voices he hears. The 1919 Chicago White Sox, blackballed after accepting bribes to throw the 1919 World Series, materialize to enjoy the diamond.
It was a feel-good movie, for sure. And here in Chatham-Kent, the new casino and restaurant complex has a feel-good vibe attached to it, within reason.
It’s bringing an additional 200 jobs to our municipality, on top of the 100 positions that will shift over from the Slots at Dresden Raceway when the new facility opens next summer.
Mayor Randy Hope said at the groundbreaking he hopes to see the new casino attract people from all over, including the U.S., to check it out, as well as other amenities and attractions Chatham-Kent has to offer.
But it’s hard to see this casino, no matter how incredible it might look and how much fun it might contain, having such an impact. For people who come across the border through Windsor seeking some gambling and entertainment Canadian-style, Casino Windsor seems like the prime spot.
That doesn’t mean no one will come to the new Gateway Casino from outside Chatham-Kent. It will be a new, fresh facility, and offers family dining options on site, along with the various gaming choices.
It’s located right beside the Holiday Inn Express, as well as the Bradley Convention Centre. That’s a great entertainment/overnight combination when there are events taking place at the centre.
But for Chatham-Kent to see a serious uptick in tourism, it will take efforts from across the municipality.
The casino and its attached restaurants are another piece in our tourism mosaic. We have such great potential here, from rich Black History in Dresden and North Buxton, wonderful beaches and trails in and near Erieau and Mitchell’s Bay, great fishing options, a beautiful provincial park in Rondeau, and unique events in places such as Wallaceburg, Bothwell, Blenheim and Thamesville.
All told, we have built it. But collective marketing will help encourage “them” to come.