By Ben Harding LONDON (Reuters) – Rundown land surrounding London’s Wembley Stadium will be transformed into a glitzy $600 million gambling resort in a joint venture between U.S. group Caesars Entertainment and Britain’s Quintain Estates. “Caesars Wembley” will sit 200 yards from the reborn home of English football — the new 90,000-seater National Stadium — and will incorporate a casino, a luxury hotel, designer shops and ballrooms, the two firms said on Tuesday. Under plans announced by the Las Vegas-based Caesars, hordes of football fans will be able to sip coffee in outdoor cafe-style bars and restaurants that will line routes to the stadium, such as the famous Wembley Way.
A 400-room, 9-storey hotel will stand next to the stadium, site of England’s 1966 World Cup victory, giving visiting teams and fans a sneek preview of the imposing stadium the night before the big match. And players and fans will be able to celebrate or drown their sorrows afterwards at one of 135 gaming tables or 1,250 slot machines at a 75,000 square foot casino. Quintain’s director of property Nick Shattock said Caesars Wembley would draw guests and customers from a new generation of Wembley fan. The stadium will incorporate 200 corporate boxes and 13,000 premium seats, each costing nearly 4,000 pounds plus 1,750 pounds a year thereafter.
“People in the past came to Wembley an hour before kick off and left as soon as they could get out of the car park. We want to change that … we want to create a day out for them,” Shattock told Reuters. Under terms of the joint venture, Quintain will provide the real estate with Caesars putting in cash to the value of that land. The remaining cost of the project will be funded equally through debt and each company’s cash resources, Shattock said. Building on the 13 acre site is due to begin in mid 2005, assuming Parliament has passed legislation relaxing UK gambling laws by then, and should be finished late 2008 — 2 years after the new Wembley holds its first FA Cup Final, the showcase of England’s domestic soccer season. CAESARS SEIZE ON NEW LAWS Caesars’ involvement in redeveloping the depressed northwest London district comes less than a month after the government published its latest plans to deregulate the gambling industry, which analysts said were likely to favor the big U.S. players.