What next for the Sandpile?
After Bradenton’s city council threw a 5-0 shutout at attorney Ed Vogler’s unimpressive plan for a three-story apartment complex last Wednesday, it better be something that knocks their socks off.
Something that attracts restaurants and retail.
Something that brings people downtown.
Something that really and truly rocks.
I’ve got just the thing.
What about -- ta dah! -- a casino?
It will draw better than the “heads in beds” rationale Vogler used to illustrate the proposition that more residents downtown bring more businesses.
It will put “booties in the seats” day and night guaranteed and those people will spend money.
That 14-acre Sandpile parcel would fetch a nice price, too.
It just so happens the Bradenton Herald’s parent company, the McClatchy Corp., recently sold the Miami Herald’s 14-acre property on Biscayne Bay to a Malaysian company.
A company that develops resort casinos.
I don’t think Genting Malaysia Berhad plunked down a cool $236 million on a whim.
They must believe it’s a good bet Florida’s going to green light a casino there at some point in the near future.
What about here?
Bradenton isn’t Miami, thank God, and the Manatee River isn’t Biscayne Bay, but the Sandpile is still desirable waterfront property.
Besides, a casino certainly gives it more pizzazz and profile than any of the other ideas that have come and gone through the years.
n A botanical garden.
n A branch of the University of South Florida.
n A library.
n A museum.
n A NASA tracking station. OK, I made that up.
n Replicas of Christopher Columbus’ ships. I did not make that up.
n A shopping center.
n A theme park.
n World’s biggest swimming pool.
n A zoo.
But a casino?
Yeah, the Seminole Tribe of Florida has the only major league casinos around approved by the state and the Sandpile doesn’t qualify as Seminole territory.
Or does it?
Remember there was a Seminole presence along the Manatee River back in the early to mid-1800s and they battled the county’s early settlers, too.
So it’s not beyond the realm of possibility that when the Manatee River was dredged in 1966, and the river bottom sand was dumped where it is now, Seminole remains might’ve come with it.
I can see it now -- the Seminole Hard Rock Bradenton, high-rise hotel, parking annex, entertainment complex.
Instead of people around here schlepping to Tampa to do their playing, they could do it right here.
The Sandpile would be a destination, all right.
Welcome to the Friendly City, where your cash is always good.
Your plastic, too.
Y’all come back now.
Mannix About Manatee, by columnist Vin Mannix, is about people and issues in Manatee County. Please call Vin Mannix at 745-7055, write him at Bradenton Herald, P.O. Box 921, Bradenton, FL 34206 or e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Please include a phone number for verification purposes.