Castellón resort “rejected” as EuroVegas site after last-ditch casino bid

Negotiations between Madrid and Barcelona are nearly “at final stage”

An aerial view of part of the Marina d’Or resort in Oropesa del Mar. / ÁNGEL SÁNCHEZ

A day after Castellón announced that it wanted to be considered as a bidder for Sheldon Adelson’s EuroVegas, the Las Vegas Sands Corporation said Tuesday that it would not consider the Valencia province’s offer to host the multi-million-euro mega casino project at the Marina d’Or resort complex.

Company sources said that “only Barcelona and Madrid are being considered” by Aldeson to build his mammoth casino, hotel and convention center project, but “thanked” Castellón for its interest, Europa Press reported.

“At this moment, negotiations are nearly at their final stage,” the sources said, adding that both Barcelona and Madrid still have a “50-50 chance” of hosting EuroVegas.

Castellón made a splurge on Monday when it announced that it was throwing its hat into the ring at this stage of the game.

Lluís Recoder, the Catalan commissioner for territory and sustainability, said that he thought Castellón was “a latecomer.”

Officials at Marina d’Or had said they only made a formal proposal to bid for the project, and were waiting to hear from the chairman and CEO of the Las Vegas Sands Corporation so they can set up a meeting.

Marina d'Or and Castellón airport are two of the biggest construction flops of the past decade

Valencia government officials said they were being “prudent” about the proposal, but regional premier Alberto Fabra on Tuesday was less than discreet. “We are going to give them all the help they want, where it is needed, so that this dream becomes reality,” the Popular Party (PP) premier told reporters. But others, such as Lola Johnson, the Valencia tourism commissioner, and Javier Moliner, the speaker of the regional parliament, played down the announcement by acknowledging that the plans were still in their “infancy.”

Landing EuroVegas would be a huge stroke of luck for Castellón, which has been grappling with two of the biggest regional construction flops of the past decade. Thousands of homes built during the real estate boom sit empty at the seaside Marina d’Or resort, in Oropesa del Mar, while Castellón is also dealing with a white elephant regional airport, which has still not seen a single plane given that it is unable to obtain the necessary flight permits. What’s more, the State Agency for Air Security has found that its main runway is too narrow for airplanes to turn around, and will have to be widened to meet regulations. The subject of intense criticism by the Valencian Audit Office, the airport cost 200 million euros to build with an additional 30 million euros spent on advertising. It was the pet project of Castellón’s former provincial administrator, Carlos Fabra (no relation to Albert Fabra), also of the PP.

Marina d’Or president Jesús Ger has offered EuroVegas some 18 million square meters of land between Oropesa del Mar and Castellón, where he had planned to build the massive Marina d’Or Golf resort. Currently there are three golf courses, a string of hotels and hundreds of apartments built on the land, but the project, which was approved by the Valencia regional government in 2010, never got off the ground.

In 2009, Marina d’Or was 700 million euros in debt. Its workforce was reduced from 1,540 employees to 865.

Carlos Fabra, who remains the PP party leader in Castellón as well as secretary general of the local chamber of commerce, also came out on Tuesday in favor of bringing EuroVegas to Marina d’Or.

“It would be the end of an old chapter and the beginning of a new era for Castellón,” he said in a press release. Fabra went on to say that “its proximity to the airport, its 320 days of sun a year, and the efforts made by Marina d’Or provide the necessary framework to make this a success.”

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