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A Thriller in Detroit?

8 July 1998

He's dangerous, he's bad and he's rolling the dice. Michael Jackson and Don Barden have joined to create Jackson-Barden Enterprises Worldwide and they're pursuing a $1 billion casino/entertainment project to be built in Detroit.

Barden told a capacity crowd of reporters at the Detroit Renaissance Center that, "All we want is a fair chance."

The Michigan Gaming Control and Revenue Act permits the licensing of up to three Detroit land-based casinos in accordance with development agreements approved by the City of Detroit. Detroit Mayor Dennis W. Archer, with the approval of the Detroit City Council, has already entered into development agreements with three casino developers (Detroit Entertainment, L.L.C., Greektown Casino L.L.C., and MGM Grand Detroit, L.L.C.). All three-casino developers currently have casino license applications pending before the Michigan Gaming Control Board. Barden has no ownership interest in any of the three-selected casino developers.

After Mayor Archer announced his final three casino operator selections, local Barden supporters started a grass roots campaign to have the issue of whether Barden should be offered the opportunity to enter into a development agreement with the city placed in proposal form on the August 4th primary ballot. That proposal is on the August ballot as Proposal 1. In response to the Barden supporters placing Proposal 1 on the ballot, the supporters of the decision of Mayor Archer and the City Council placed Proposal 2 on the August ballot, which seeks a public endorsement of the three development agreements.

Barden said that his proposed Detroit/Casino project is contingent on the voters of Detroit supporting Proposal 1 on the August 4, 1998 ballot. In response to a question asking whether Mr. Barden thought Proposal 1 had a chance of passing, he said, "We do not have a crystal ball, but the people of Detroit know that if there are three casinos in Detroit at least one should be majority black owned."

Michael Jackson told the crowd of reporters that the casino project will "push the envelope of technology and open the child-like heart in all of us."

He also said that he's "looking forward to doing many worthwhile things in the City of Detroit with Don Barden."

The proposed project, called "The Majestic Kingdom", would be located on more than 75 acres of land near the Detroit River, east of the Ambassador Bridge. The entertainment complex would include the Michael Jackson Thriller Theme Park, featuring a large underground aquarium with dolphins and fish, a "Thriller Coaster" that will be capable of running year-round, botanical gardens, children's theatres, unusual nightclubs and restaurants and an amusement park. It would also include the Mansion In The Sky (800 hotel rooms and restaurants and nightclubs) and the Majestic Star Casino.

"The proposed casino project is at an embryonic stage and I have lots of questions," said Detroit City Council member Nicholas Hood III.

When asked if he would support the project , he said, "We do not have to be boxed into just three casinos, because we are the government and the State Legislature could authorize up to four or five casino projects in the city of Detroit."

Michigan Senator Michael Bouchard (R-Birmingham), the Chairman of the Senate Gaming and Casino Oversight Committee, sees things differently. "There will only be three casino operator licenses period," he said. "The people voted for three casinos to be built in the City of Detroit and that is what they will get. Those are the guidelines we are proceeding under."

Jackson-Barden Enterprises also has plans for four additional entertainment projects throughout the world.

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