NIAGARA FALLS, N.Y., Dec. 30 - The new Seneca Niagara Casino and Hotel does not just dominate the skyline of the one-time Honeymoon Capital of the World. For all practical purposes, the 26-story glass-and-steel building, which officially opened on Friday, is the skyline on the American side of the Niagara River.
The 26-story Seneca Niagara Casino and Hotel is at the end of Falls Street in Niagara Falls, N.Y.
Jutting from land owned by the Seneca Nation in downtown Niagara Falls and adjoining the Senecas' existing casino, the $240 million hotel and its colored glass and lights, arrayed in American Indian patterns, contrasts sharply with the decaying neighborhoods that surround it.
"People have been coming here for years, and the place looked like it looks," said David Rosenwasser, the president and chief executive of the Niagara Tourism and Convention Corporation. "Now, there's a sign of life, and it's so large it subliminally sends a message."
To residents and business owners, the message is mixed.
Proponents mention the 1,000 jobs created by the hotel, bringing the work force of the city's largest employer to about 3,000. The city receives a share of the revenue, $14 million in 2004.
But owners of many local restaurants and bars say they have lost regular customers to the casino. "It just hurts when you hear people say, 'I went to the casino and had a free meal and a drink,' " said Kathy Lewis, who owns Kelly's Korner, a neighborhood restaurant and tavern about five miles from the casino. "You didn't have a free meal or drink - you might have lost $100 to get that bottle of beer."