Ohio’s May primary is three weeks away, and so far it hasn’t garnered much attention in terms of press, political ads, or voter interest. Compared to the November election, when the legalized gambling issue attracted huge amounts of money and generated constant TV ads, the upcoming election has flown under the radar.
I’ll be going to the polls on May 4 intending to vote for Issue 2. That issue, if passed, would change the site of Columbus’ casino from the Arena District near downtown to the site of the former Delphi plant in west Columbus. The Delphi site is far from downtown and indeed is outside I-270, the six-lane highway that rings Columbus.
Unlike the November 2009 issue to amend the Ohio Constitution to allow casinos, which was opposed by a majority of voters in the Columbus area, Issue 2 seems to be supported by just about everyone. The Columbus city administration and the civic movers and shakers didn’t want the casino in the Arena District, an up-and-coming development area just north of downtown. Franklin Township, where the Delphi plant was located, is excited about getting rid of an abandoned industrial site and putting up an entertainment venue that will add some jobs. Even the casino operator probably isn’t too upset about the location change, because the new site will have more space for parking and will be much more accessible for people coming from out of town on I-71 or I-70, both of which connect with I-270. In any case, Penn National Gaming, which will operate the new casino, has already started to tear down the old Delphi plant, and as a result some jobs have been created already.
As readers of this blog know, I am not a big fan of casinos in Columbus — but if we are constitutionally required to have one, I would rather have it on the outskirts of town rather than in the heart of the city. For that reason, I wholeheartedly support Issue 2 and hope Ohio voters will, too.