Foxwoods Heckled, Chased From Gaming Control Board Meeting

The Strawbridge & Clothier building at 8th and Market Streets is the proposed site of the Foxwoods casino project. (Rahul Coutinho/Staff Photographer)

Foxwoods, a casino originally approved for the Delaware riverfront in South Philly, told the state Gaming Control Board this morning that it will seek approval to relocate to the former Strawbridge & Clothier department store at 8th and Market Street.  The board, which had called a meeting to hear updates on plans for Foxwoods and SugarHouse, a casino approved for the Delaware riverfront in Fishtown, nearly lost control of the meeting as a crowd of about 50 angry protesters heckled and berated casino investors.

Foxwoods officials were forced to leave through a back door, crossing over the stage where the board members were sitting, after protesters refused to clear the isles of the State Museum, where the meeting was held.  Many of the protesters were from Chinatown groups opposed to the Foxwoods move, which was first announced more than seven months ago for the Gallery at 11th and Market but now moving three blocks east.  The protesters grew more strident as Foxwoods announced its plans, pressing forward and waving signs denouncing the casino investors for targeting their neighborhood.

"We have a lease in place. We have financing in place," said Brian Ford, CEO for the local investor group that owns 70 percent of the casino license.  "This all came together in the last several weeks."

PhillyClout has asked Foxwoods for more detail on when the lease was signed, how much space the casino will take up and when the investors will seek board approval for the move.

SugarHouse officials, who spoke before Foxwoods, were also heckled as they recounted how a recent agreement with Mayor Nutter on development details had cleared many roadblocks to construction. 

“We want to look forward and not back. We clearly are optimistic and see light at the end of the tunnel," said Neil Bluhm, the majority stakeholder in SugarHouse.  “We’re burying the hatchet. We’re moving forward with the city.”