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Wednesday, May 31, 2023

Smoking or Non-Smoking?


Mayor tackles casino and entertainment matters

Faced with a decision, Shreveport Mayor Tom Arceneaux is doing his homework.

Arceneaux must consider whether to veto an ordinance passed by the Shreveport City Council at its May 23 meeting. The amendment repeals a smoking ban the council enacted with the Smoke-Free Air Act 2020.

The amendment has been contentious because it would allow smoking again in Shreveport’s casinos. Protesters showed up at Government Plaza before the council vote to express their opposition to the amendment.

“It is not yet on my desk,” Arceneaux said of the amendment. “It will be on my desk to decide whether to veto it or not. I haven’t made that decision yet.”

Arceneaux said he is listening to both sides of the issues before considering a veto.

“I am going to go back and listen to all the arguments and read all the emails I have gotten,” he said. “I thought that the opponents of the ordinance did a very persuasive job of presenting their case, primarily in support of the casino employees, who would not have a voice or an option to work in a smoke-free environment.

“The casinos did a reasonable job presenting their case, although they really didn’t present much in the way of hard facts and data. That’s what I am doing some independent research on, so I can make a decision on whether to veto that or not.”

The amendment passed on a 4-2 vote in the council meeting. Would take five votes to override a veto. Council members Tabatha Taylor, James Green, Ursula Bowman and Gary Brooks voted in favor of the ordinance. Council members Grayson Boucher and Jim Taliaferro voted against it. Councilman Alan Jackson was not at the meeting.

Arceneaux said that if he does veto the amendment, it would take five votes on the council to override the veto.

Arceneaux and the city have found a consultant to help evaluate a proposal from REV Entertainment Group to bring a multi-sport facility to the Louisiana State Fairgrounds, site of Fair Grounds Field.

Baker Tilly has been engaged to help the Arceneaux administration evaluate the feasibility of the project. Baker Tilley is an international accounting and consulting firm. Arceneaux said Baker Tilly has worked with REV Entertainment in the past, and the firm’s experience is one factor that stood out.

“We got three very, very good proposals, including theirs, so it was not an easy decision,” he said. “The other two — we got one from a primarily architectural firm and one from primarily a financial firm, and we got one from Baker Tilley. We really had to decide what were the most important pieces of the work to be done, and we felt Baker Tilley met the criteria for those pieces of what we need done best.”

The city of Shreveport entered into a cooperative agreement with REV Entertainment in fall of 2022. The partnership includes a proposed new development that includes a ballpark to serve as the home for an independent baseball team. The plans also include bringing hotels and restaurants to the area.

REV Entertainment is a full-service events and entertainment company from Arlington, Texas. The company manages events, entertainment, sports management, food service and development. The REV Sports Management division oversees two Minor League Baseball teams – the Down East Wood Ducks and the Hickory Crawdads.

In other entertainment-related news, Arceneaux said the city still is waiting to hear from Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson about the draft of lease for Millennium Studios that the city sent to Jackson.

“I frankly take that as good news,” Arceneaux said. “He didn’t reject it out of hand. I don’t think it’s an objectionable lease. Any time lawyers look at something, they find something to diddle with. But I don’t think it’s objectionable. It’s in line with the outline I had sent.”


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