Jay-Z's Entertainment Agency Roc Nation Joins Caesars, SL Green's Bid For A Times Square Casino

Jay-Z's Entertainment Agency Roc Nation Joins Caesars, SL Green's Bid For A Times Square Casino

Casino giant Caesars Entertainment and developer SL Green are adding a new partner to their proposed Times Square casino: billionaire rapper and businessman Jay-Z and his Roc Nation. The three-way partnership was announced at SL Green’s annual investor conference on Monday, and marks a new twist in the developer’s and Caesars’ bid to launch a casino at SL Green’s 1515 Broadway office tower.

Roc Nation, Jay-Z’s entertainment agency, will be the “official entertainment partner” of SL Green and Caesars in their bid. As a partner in the project, Roc Nation will help revitalize Times Square by partnering with neighborhood organizations to re-imagine programming in the district’s famous “bow tie,” the parties said in a press statement.

“New York is a beacon, the epicenter of culture. We have the opportunity to create a destination at the heart of Times Square,” said Shawn “Jay-Z” Carter. “My partnership with SL Green and Caesars, this coalition, has all the promise and commitment to economic opportunity, growth and enrichment for the community, and everyone who visits the Empire State.”

The parties are among a half-dozen teams that are also expected to submit proposals to the state for a first full-scale casino in the Big Apple. New York State prepares to issue three downstate casino licenses in the coming months, a move that has also attracted plans from other parties such as Wynn Resorts, Saratoga Casino Holdings and Mets owner Steve Cohen.

“There’s no better partner than JAY-Z and Roc Nation to help Caesars Palace Times Square ensure that Times Square remains a global entertainment hub and an economic engine for New York,” said Marc Holliday, Chairman & CEO of SL Green. “We will bring the nearly 130 million annual pedestrians a stronger and more exciting Times Square to visit, reunifying the bow tie around a new set of innovative programming that will appeal to New Yorkers and tourists.”

Contrary to claims that Caesars Palace Times Square would be a colossal gaming mecca that might overwhelm everything around it, the casino would occupy only eight floors in the 54-story tower between West 43d and 44th streets, reports NY Post. The ground floor is earmarked for non-gaming uses including an entrance to the Minskoff Theater, home of “The Lion King.”

“We are putting theater at ground level,” Holliday emphasized, as per the cited source. The casino floors would also house restaurants and entertainment uses. Holliday estimated that the “boutique”-size casino might occupy as little as 250,000 square feet of floor space, a postage stamp compared with typical, sprawling gaming floors in Las Vegas.

.@RocNation, the full-service entertainment agency founded by JAY-Z, will be the official entertainment partner of SL Green Realty Corp. and Caesars Entertainment in their bid for a new, state-of-the-art gaming facility at 1515 Broadway in Times Square: https://t.co/sOm5Rr87xr pic.twitter.com/PXwamTihNP

— Caesars Entertainment (@CaesarsEnt) December 5, 2022 Additionally, a new, approximately 800-room, five-star hotel would be created in the building above them. Holliday said he was “not yet prepared” to address how the tower’s office tenants, including Paramount Global’s headquarters, would be affected.

“Times Square has been the heartbeat of American Entertainment for over a century,” said Tom Reeg, CEO of Caesars Entertainment. “Through our shared vision, we will build a world-class destination specifically designed to complement and elevate today’s Times Square experience, ensuring it remains a magnet for visitors and a hub of creativity for years to come.”

The parties claim Caesars Palace Times Square would provide billions in tax revenue to New York City and State, while also accelerating economic recovery through “strategic partnerships” with area businesses utilizing the Caesars Rewards loyalty program. Members would be able to use credits at Broadway shows, local hotels, restaurants, retail stores, and more.

The project promises to create thousands of direct and indirect jobs in and around Times Square. The parties also say it would drive 7 million+ net new visits to Times Square annually; 600,000+ new overnight visits to local hotels; 7 million+ new meals for local restaurants; $166 million+ new retail spending; and more than $65 million in new annual Broadway ticket sales.

However, not everyone is on board with the plan. The Broadway League, which represents theater owners and producers, claims the casino would be “dangerous” to area theaters. Holliday rebutted these claims, stating SL Green’s proposal is designed to bolster businesses around it. And while the League is adamantly opposed to the project, the plan has received the backing of a number of restaurants, and by Actors Equity and hotel and construction unions.

In SL Green’s view, the 1515 Broadway project is needed to help arrest a slow, gradual decline in the district’s fortunes, adds NY Post. Some major companies such as Skadden and EY have moved away; and Times Square-district office vacancy has soared from 5% in 2012 to nearly 25% today, according to CBRE.

The state will issue a formal request for proposals (RFP) for casino applicants next month. The selection panel will then move some responses to a state siting committee, which is expected to choose one location in the five boroughs before the end of the year.