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Glendale City Council supports tribe's casino plan

• AZCentral.Com

In a major shift, a divided Glendale City Council voted Tuesday to support a southern Arizona tribe's proposed casino near the Westgate City Center.

The council voted 4-3 to rescind its previous opposition to a plan by the Tohono O'odham Nation to build a major casino resort on its land less than two miles from the Arena and the University of Phoenix Stadium.

Glendale's new position comes after five years of fierce objections from the city, including spending nearly $3.5 million in legal fees battling the casino.

This spring council members shifted their position and came out against federal legislation that would block the gaming hall at 95th and Northern avenues.

READ MORE : Supreme Court decision could help Glendale casino plans

SEE MORE: Renderings of the proposed Casino

The change also comes a week before a Senate hearing in Washington, D.C., to discuss Indian gaming.

Mayor Jerry Weiers, who opposes the casino, is expected to attend the hearing and present Glendale's position supporting the tribe's plan for a 1.1 million square-foot resort and casino on 135 acres.

Councilwoman Norma Alvarez said the casino will create jobs for Glendale and generate sales tax revenue for the city from ancillary spending, though council members did not cite specific figures.

"We need to go forward," Alvarez said. "We've made some really big mistakes in the past in spending money. ...This will make our city much better."

Alvarez voted with council members Gary Sherwood, Ian Hugh and Sam Chavira to support the casino. Weiers and council members Yvonne Knaack and Manny Martinez were opposed.

"We have given up any leverage we may have had in negotiations," Martinez said of talks with the tribe.

The action occurred at a hastily called special council meeting that attracted more than 100 trade union members who packed the chambers in support of the casino plan.

"We're trying to get some work out of it," said Michael Henrichsen, a retired union pipe fitter. "It's all about the work."

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