Boyd casino plans in Florida may face competition from an indoor ski resort complex


Plans by Boyd Gaming Corp. to put a casino next to a sports arena in southern Florida may have some competition.

The Sun Sentinel reported a group of developers are proposing to build an indoor ski resort complex on the same site.

As the newspaper reports, both projects face “major hurdles:” The indoor ski complex lack financing and the casino venture between Boyd Gaming and owners of the Florida Panthers hockey team lack legislative support for gaming expansion.

It's not clear whether the city of Sunrise, which is near Fort Lauderdale, may need to choose one or the other — or whether either could succeed.

The BankAtlantic Center, home to the National Hockey League’s Florida Panthers, is adjacent to the massive Sawgrass Mills Mall, one of the state’s most popular tourist attractions.

The Panthers ownership signed a deal with Boyd Gaming earlier this year on the casino project. Florida Panthers President Michael Yormark wasn’t too keen on the ski complex.

"We're not sure something like that would be an attraction," Yormark said.

One analyst seemed to agree the casino might be a better use of the land than an indoor ski resort.

"I don't know if visitors coming down from cold places will want to do anything winter here," said Peter Ricci, director of hospitality programs at Florida Atlantic University in Boca Raton. "And I don't know how many residents would go more than once or twice a year."

If the Legislature authorizes a casino in Sunrise, the Panthers-Boyd project could start construction by 2014 and finish building by 2016, said Yormark. The size of its casino-hotel would depend on what the Legislature approves.