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More on the Harrah’s Baltimore proposal

Part of what drew Caesars Entertainment Corp. to Baltimore is their customers. Many of them are already here.

The company’s “Total Rewards” loyalty program has more than 40 million members. About 1 million are in the Baltimore area.

Caesars president, CEO and chairman Gary Loveman said that familiarity with the brand — Caesars owns casinos under the Harrah’s, Caesars, Horseshoe and several other flags — would give Harrah’s Baltimore a foothold. It would also, Loveman said, allow the casino to use deals to lure Total Rewards members from other parts of the country to Baltimore.

Caesars wants the “VIP customer,” Loveman said.

“In every American market, we want to be home to the VIP customer,” he said. “It will be our strategy that we will have a higher proportion of VIP customers” than other casinos in the area.

The view in the rendering above shows one of two entrances, this one at the corner of Russell and Bayard streets. This is roughly the view you would get driving north on Russell toward downtown.

There would be a steakhouse on the bottom floor and “Baltimore-themed” sports bar on the second floor, both fronting Russell.

Trevor Busche, Caesars vice president of corporate development, said the casino development team hasn’t settled on what restaurants will fill those spaces.

“We know there are local chefs and local ways to tie into the city and that’s something we would pursue,” he said.

The casino would mean changes for the surrounding area, not just the vacant block on which it would be built.

The developers want to widen Russell Street to add turning lanes and put in a new traffic light at Russell and Worcester.

Busche said the Caesars group — the team includes former Rouse Co. CEO Anthony Deering and Theo Rodgers, president of A&R Development — envisions “mixed use, urban development” along Warner Street between the casino and M&T Bank Stadium.

Deering, a veteran Baltimore developer, said the traffic on Russell would keep foot and car travelers on the east side of the street.

The timeline proposed by Caesars for the casino’s development would start with a state approval in the first quarter of 2012. Land agreements with the city would be approved in the first half of 2012 2012, and the project’s financing and sit preparation work would begin between April and September. Construction would begin in the second half of 2012 and the casino would open in late 2013.

The $310 million casino would create some 1,212 direct jobs during construction and 1,225 when up and operating, according to Caesars.