Riverside CEO pitches CR water park ahead of casino vote - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Riverside CEO pitches CR water park ahead of casino vote


Linn County voters now have a second entertainment venue option to consider.

Four days before voters are set to weigh in on the prospects of a casino in Linn County, Riverside CEO Dan Kehl has pitched a $30 million investment in a water park that could open as early as 2014.

The indoor water park would include a bowling center, food and beverage outlets, retail outlets and go-karts. 

Kehl says if voters say no to the casino, he'll build the attraction on the same city-owned land that the Steve Gray-led group of private investors is looking to build an $80-$100 million casino.

"Today I'm announcing that there is a second interested bidder- investors who will offer the taxpayers of Cedar Rapids a better deal on their city-owned land," Kehl said at a Friday press conference.

Kehl is offering the city $4 million for the land.  He says it will only make financial sense to move forward with his project if no casino is built.

Kehl says he is offering the project now because it makes good business sense given the casino investor's plans.

"We just recently found out the details of the plan, where they were going to put the casino, what kind of development offers the city was doing.  Act of desperation?  No.  We believe the voters of Linn County should have other options," Kehl said.

According to documents filed with the Iowa Ethics and Campaign Disclosure Board on Thursday, Kehl's casino has  contributed $600,000 to the "Just Say No, Casino" campaign in an effort to defeat the casino vote.  In documents filed with the Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission in late December, Kehl's casino said they would spend up to $1.5 million with the anti-casino group.

Casino investor Steve Gray welcomes a waterpark along with the casino.

"Riverside thinks this is a good business idea for Linn County and Cedar Rapids, there's plenty of ground on the western side of the river, build it," Gray said.

Gray says Kehl is only worried about his best interest.

"I think its an empty promise and I think its disingenuous," Gray said.

Whether the new option sways remaining undecided votes remains to be seen. Linn County residents gave mixed reaction to the prospects of an indoor waterpark.

"We enjoy Adventureland, we enjoy the water park up in Waterloo, we enjoy stuff like that," said Jennifer Johnson of Cedar Rapids.

"All the sudden he wants to build a water park in Cedar Rapids? He's never had any interest before," said Clint Aldeman of Cedar Rapids.





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