Given that the future of the Inquirer, which yesterday won its 19th Pulitzer Prize, is a crapshoot, it is only fitting that the newspaper’s iconic building should house one. Literally. Place your bets, ladies and gentlemen.
If local developer Bart Blatstein can swing a casino license—and that’s a big if—the 18-floor Tower of Truth will be part of a proposed casino-entertainment complex on North Broad Street.
Stop me if you’ve heard this one: I worked at the Inky for 30 years, until 2009.
Built in 1924 and measuring 526,000 square feet, the Art Deco Inquirer building is on the National Register of Historic Places. Under Blatstein’s plan, it would become a 200-room hotel, bordered by a casino. Also in the mix: movie theaters, shopping and other amenities.
Meanwhile, what’s left of staff of the Inky, Daily News and philly.com will relocate in July to the third floor of the former Strawbridge & Clothier store at 8th and Market streets, or as one Inky wag described it, The Dead Zone.
It’s a Dead Zone with musical chairs. Employees have been told there won’t be room for everyone. Those who don’t manage to get a seat before the music stops will be shipped to the Cherry Hill or Conshohocken bureaus.
In a way, it’s poetic justice for Blatstein. Having been blackballed by the former owners from bidding on the Inky, DN and philly.com, he’s bringing in slots-addicted gamblers to the hallowed real estate. Hell hath no fury like a developer scorned.
While many view this as the latest chapter in the slow disintegration of a once-invincible brand, I see it as marketing genius.
The casino could set up games of chance based on which stories should be covered or how many reporters get whacked in the next round of layoffs. Such a setup would be catnip to blue-collar types fed up with the liberal media. What better way to get even than to mess with the news and who reports it?
Don’t like certain columnists? Hit the jackpot and have them replaced! Fed up with creampuff coverage of Democrats and hit squads against Republicans? Ban every mention of a Democrat until after the election! The 2016 election! Not enough Phillies stories? Cover them yourself!
And if you win at the progressive slots, the biggest prize of all: Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck as co-editors!
As for naming the casino, it should definitely have a newspaper theme. My nominations: State of Play; Ace in the Hole; The Year of Living Dangerously.
Onto the hotel, it must be Good Night, and Good Luck. For the bar, Shattered Glass.
Show your Pulitzer and your first drink is free.