The world’s largest riverboat could soon be docked at the Port of Pensacola.
The Glory of Rome, a 450-foot long riverboat rated to carry 5,000 passengers, is currently working its way down the Mississippi River system on its way to the Gulf of Mexico and may end its journey at the Port of Pensacola.
The ship previously housed the Caesars Southern Indiana casino across the river from Louisville, Kentucky, until Indiana ended its requirement that casinos had to be housed in operating riverboats, and a permanent building was constructed. The ship left its moorings in Indiana on Aug. 11 after being sold to a developer in Orange Beach, Alabama, according to the Louisville Courier Journal.
Port of Pensacola Director Amy Miller told the News Journal in an email that the ship may dock at the port before getting work done to convert it to a restaurant, entertainment and conference center.
“I believe they are currently looking at a number of facilities that could perform that work,” Miller said. “If they do not have one under contract before the vessel gets to this area, they may temporarily dock here until the conversion work is under contract.”
Riverboat sets sail: Caesars riverboat ‘Glory of Rome’ sets sail for new home in Alabama
Miller also confirmed the port is in negotiations with the ship’s owner to have it docked at Pensacola permanently.
“If we are able to reach an agreement with the company, we are looking at potentially developing a site on the east side of the port in the area identified in the Port Vision Plan for non-traditional, maritime-related uses,” Miller said. “This would include development of new public access to that area.”
The News Journal was unable to reach Larry Wireman, the Alabama developer who owns the ship, for comment. Wireman told the OBA Community Website that he is in talks with Pensacola and other cities including Jacksonville over where to house the Glory of Rome riverboat. He added that he was also in talks with Key West over the home of another former casino riverboat he owns called the Argosy VI.
According to the report, Wireman said not much work is needed on the Glory of Rome vessel, unless he decides to turn it into a hotel, and he was “pretty far along” in discussions with Pensacola.
“We’re talking to the port about making a deal with them,” Wireman said to the Orange Beach website. “You can imagine we’ll have to have a lot of cars and a lot of parking and I think we can really help and bring a lot of people into town if that’s what they want. We’ll probably put 250 to 300 people to work. I love the people in Pensacola. I think we can work something out with them.”
Miller said specifics about the negotiations were confidential under Florida’s public records laws, but she said any agreement would ultimately have to be approved by the City Council, adding that the port was a long way from a deal at this point.
“We think this could potentially add a fun and unique entertainment venue to the Downtown waterfront and could fit nicely with the overall plan for developing the underutilized property on the east side of the Port,” Miller said.
Jim Little can be reached at [email protected] and 850-208-9827.