Meadowlands casino plan unveiled

MetLife stadium across from Meadowlands racetrack in North Jersey. (File photo: Ron Tarver / Staff Photographer)

A North Jersey business group on Tuesday unveiled a $1.17 billion plan to add two hotels with casino floors and conference facilities to the Meadowlands Sports Complex, which is already home to MetLife Stadium and Meadowlands Racetrack.

The Meadowlands Regional Chamber's proposal, which updates a 2011 plan that also included a casino, comes as momentum is building among lawmakers to end Atlantic City's monopoly on casino gambling in New Jersey.

"This is not a plan to create a district that competes with Atlantic City," Jim Kirkos, chief executive of the business group said. "Since the Meadowlands Sports Complex was built, the population in the surrounding region has grown but does not have anything compelling enough to keep them here when they are spending their discretionary income."

The proposal also imagines a 700,000-square-foot convention center, a train to carry people between the numerous Meadowlands facilities, and slot machines at the racetrack.

Separately, State Sen. Joe Pennacchio (R., Morris) said he plans to introduce a constitutional amendment that would allow slot machines at horse racetracks in New Jersey.

The slots would be operated by a consortium of Atlantic City casino owners, who would keep 40 percent of the revenue. Pennacchio's proposal also calls for half of the slots revenue to go into state coffers and 10 percent to be used for infrastructure and entertainment improvements in Atlantic City.