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Harford, entire region would benefit from Great Wolf Lodge in Perryville, county executive says

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Great Wolf Lodge may be planning to go to Perryville, but that doesn’t mean Harford County won’t see some benefits from it.

The county executive and the director of tourism for the county both said a $200 million resort just on the other side of the Susquehanna River will have an impact on the entire region, including Harford County.

“It’s good for the region,” Harford County Executive Barry Glassman said. “We already know from the big Amazon and Lidl warehouses, we get 37 to 40 percent of jobs because we have such a good workforce.”

Perryville and Cecil County officials announced last week they are close to finalizing a deal to bring a 500-room resort to 44 acres next to Hollywood Casion in Perryville, just off Interstate 95.

“We feel Perryville could be a nice fit for us and look forward to continued dialogue with city and county officials, as well as the community at large, as we explore the prospect for a Great Wolf Lodge in Maryland,” Jason Lasecki, a spokesman for Chicago-based Great Wolf Resorts, told The Baltimore Sun.

The resort, expected to attract a half-million visitors a year, would include an indoor/outdoor water park, a rope course and climbing wall, restaurants, shops and a conference center that can hold up to 1,000 people, Perryville and Cecil County officials said. The project would create 450 to 600 jobs and is expected to be completed by summer 2022.

“You have to figure right there across from Havre de Grace, we’re going to get a big piece of the jobs,” Glassman said. “They’ll mostly be service industry jobs that will be good for young people.”

He said it will also be good for Havre de Grace restaurants and Harford County attractions.

“The people who travel there are likely to come to Ladew, the [Ma & Pa] trail or Bel Air, so it’s good for the region,” Glassman said.

Greg Pizzuto, executive director of Visit Harford!, Harford County’s marketing organization, said anything that bring people to the upper part of the Chespaeake Bay is a benefit to the region as a whole.

“I embrace it,” Pizzuto said. “It gives us some opportunity to showcase the area and hopefully people who got there come back and experience the things we have here.”

Great Wolf is an all-encompassing destination, he said.

“But I think there will be people who will want to go out while they’re here and partake in retail and crab cakes and things the upper part of the bay has to offer,” Pizzuto said.

Harford has numerous historical opportunities and cultural events, as well as micro-breweries and wineries.

“I looking forward to it coming, quite honestly,” Pizzuto said. “I think it would be a good thing for the area to have something like that. It will continue to make Harford and Cecil County and the upper part of the bay a destination and that’s what we want.”

Having the resort next to the casino should allow for longer stays and more visits to the gambling tables.

It could be “an innovative promotion for Hollywood Perryville to connect to a Great Wolf Lodge,” James R. Karmel, a professor of history at Harford Community College and an independent gaming analyst told The Sun. “Great Wolf Lodge is an up-and-coming, popular option for a lot of families, so I think it’s creative marketing… It’s an unusual type of thing for the East Coast. Usually it’s Las Vegas where you have the family tie-in to gaming.”

But it makes sense, he said. Great Wolf Lodge resorts are growing in popularity and casino operators increasingly build or partner with nearby amenities to attract gamblers for longer stays.

“It could really help Hollywood Perryville get more of a market in Maryland,” he said.

And help bring more tourists to Harford and Cecil counties.

Lorraine Mirabella of The Baltimore Sun contributed to this article.

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