Friday, Jul 01, 2016
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Casino crowds causing traffic to back up on I-75

Eager visitors to Hollywood Casino Toledo have generated backed-up lines of cars trying to get off southbound I-75 into the new casino’s parking garage on Miami Street.

Officials expect the traffic lines to dissipate as the novelty of Ohio’s newest casino begins to wear off.

Jason Birney, vice president for marketing at the casino, estimated the crowds on opening day Tuesday and again Friday to have topped 20,000 over a 24-hour period. He said the average for the first four days was about 16,000 per day.

On opening day, casino officials said that exceeding 10,000 people was above their expectations.

“Our largest problem is traffic outside, lines within the building, lines leading up to some of our machines. We definitely have a lot of volume coming through these doors right now,” Mr. Birney said Saturday. “We expect it to normalize.”

But he couldn’t predict what a normal daily attendance might be because Toledo is a new market.

Rossford Police Chief Glenn Goss, Sr., said Toledo police dealt with the traffic temporarily stacked up on the Di Salle Bridge Friday night by requiring some motorists to continue south on Miami from the I-75 and Miami Street interchange in East Toledo into Rossford, where Miami becomes Dixie Highway. He said about 100 cars ended up parking on the alternate temporary parking lot on the property of Pilkington PLC.

“I would like to think that it’s probably going to settle down,” Chief Goss said. “I think the newness of the casino, the excitement of it, is bringing a lot of people in.”

Rossford City Administrator Ed Ciecka said other than people driving to the alternate parking, there has been minimal spillover of traffic into Rossford. The casino sits just north of Rossford in East Toledo.

Theresa Pollick, spokesman for the Ohio Department of Transportation, said I-75 traffic has backed up on the interstate for a short duration opening day and sporadically Friday and Saturday, mainly in the evenings. She said most of the backups have been on the ramp from southbound I-75 to Miami.

Hollywood Casino Toledo became the second Las Vegas-style gambling venue to open in Ohio in May, after Rock Ohio Caesars Horseshoe Casino in Cleveland.

Local officials are hoping the $320 million casino, with its 2,002 slot machines, gaming tables, dining rooms, showgirls, and live entertainment, promotes Toledo as a destination and contributes to economic growth, if only for providing 1,300 new jobs.

Two other casinos in Cincinnati and Columbus will open later, all permitted under a constitutional amendment that Ohio voters approved in 2009.

Contact Tom Troy at tomtroy@theblade.com or 419-724-6058.

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