“It’s like something out of the Simpsons”
That was Two Mile Borris native Pat Shortt speaking about the proposed Tipperary Venue yoke in a big field near the village on yesterday’s John Murray Show on RTE Radio One. As you probably know, the development got the green …
That was Two Mile Borris native Pat Shortt speaking about the proposed Tipperary Venue yoke in a big field near the village on yesterday’s John Murray Show on RTE Radio One. As you probably know, the development got the green light from An Bord Pleanála on Monday. It’s a great quote because all the venture needs to go with the 500-bedroom five-star hotel, huge casino, all-weather racecourse, greyhound track, golf course and a full-size replica of the White House is a monorail. No doubt that’s on the cards too. They didn’t get the go-ahead for the 15,000-capacity underground entertainment centre as it was “inappropriate”. But the hotel, casino, racecourse, greyhound track and White House? They were obviously appropriate.
I’ve a pretty vivid imagination at the best of times, but I just don’t get this one. Whenever I go to Tipperary, I pass the turn-off for Two Mile Borris and I just can’t see thousands of high rollers, deadbeats, dreamers and people about to gamble away the creamery cheque driving down that road with stars in their eyes. Obviously those supporting the the €460 million venture (including horse trainer Aidan O’Brien, MCD Concerts’ boss Denis Desmond and casino operators Caesars Entertainment) have better imaginations than me. But driving by that big field on Monday evening, it was very hard not to think of this as one of those casinos which operate on Indian reservations in the middle of nowhere in the United States that you occasionally see from the road as you speed by.
However, that’s not the comparison which everyone has been making. There’s been a lot of yakking about this as a Las Vegas-style venture and you can see where this is coming from. Las Vegas also sprung up in the middle of nowhere and the masses did come – and are still travelling there – in their thousands.
The thing about Sin City, though, is that there’s not just one Tipperary Venue-style resort along the strip and Glitter Gulch; there’s dozens of them, one as outlandish, lavish and humongous as the next. Because the city has so many hotels and can offer very competitive deals on rooms, it attracts conventions every week of the year, which is what really pushes up the visitor numbers. If the Tipperary Venue wants to ape Vegas, it should play nice with the teachers and the public servants and persuade their unions to have their annual conferences in Two Mile Borris. What happens in Two Mile Borris, in those evening sessions when the teachers put away their packets of biscuits and pull out their acoustic guitars, stays in Two Mile Borris.
Of course, Two Mile Borris could really turn out to be our Atlantic City, though “meet me tonight in Two Mile Borris” doesn’t have the same ring to it. If Las Vegas is where Los Angeles folks go to let their hair down, Atlantic City is located near enough to New York City on the other coast to provide Big Apple denizens with similar entertainment. The problem is that the city has become shabby and down-at-heel and doesn’t have the same 24/7 glamour and, as I found out a few years ago, a Sunday night wandering around AC’s casinos and boardwalk is not something to be recommended because there’s no-one around. Of course, that was just one night of the week but, for a venture like the Two Mile Borris resort to work, it probably needs to be doing the numbers every day and every night of every week. After all, if there’s no action in the resort, you’re don’t really have the option of jumping in your car and checking out the hotspots of Thurles, Cashel or Cloughjordan. That wouldn’t take long.
Despite the arguments and the fuming, this one is likely to go ahead. The promise of jobs will keep the locals sweet (you can completely understand why they’re all for it because there’s absolutely nothing around the area to keep the locals at home, though it’s a moot point if these jobs are actually sustainable in the long term), the Gaming and Lotteries Act will be shuffled and there will be an elaborate hooley when the time comes to cut the ribbon. There will be concern expressed about the social effects of such a largescale gambling enterprise, but those worries will be batted away because there are jobs, the holy grail of Ireland 2011, to be had from the development. We can’t build service stations on our small network of motorways before they open, but we can build casinos in a big field in the middle of a field in rural Ireland.