Iowa - Against a backdrop of the blazing sun and a
towering crane, Meskwaki officials and contractors Thursday
staged a ceremonial ground-breaking for a $111 million
expansion of the Meskwaki
Bingo-Casino-Hotel. Once complete, the addition will
more than double the square footage at the gaming operation.
we are finished, this will be the finest facility in Iowa
and the central Midwest," said Brad Hornburg, project
manager with Landmark, Inc., of St. Louis.
call for constructing a nine-story hotel with 200 rooms,
15 luxury suites, a spa and lobby. Once that opens, the
tribe will begin renovations on the existing 206-room
facility. At the same time, contractors are also building
a second gaming area and adding a convention center. In
the spring when construction is complete, contractors
will begin renovating the existing gaming space.
the height of construction, contractors will employ 475
open, the facility will add about 400 employees to the
1,150 already working full time.
Young Bear, secretary of the Meskwaki Tribal Council,
said 15 years ago he and a group of artists requested
ownership of a red barn on the hill leading to the casino.
The artists hoped to turn the structure into an art gallery.
"While that plan became elusive, I sometimes think
in retrospect --- now that I humbly serve this tribal
community as a councilman --- that no artists' dreams
could ever conceptualize what is about to happen here
today," he said.
Bear said the red barn symbolically made way for the casino
complex. And he said the expansion will diversify economic
opportunities for the tribe.
the opening of the first casino New Year's Eve 2002, revenues
have been used to establish economic stability for the
tribe. Tribal members receive about $1,700 a month per
capita after federal taxes. Casino profits also go toward
the timing of the expansion, casino general manager Dan
Stromer said updating the facility is not about competing
with Iowa's expanding gambling facilities, but about continuing
the tribe's vision.
has been on the drawing board for several years,"
added the improved facility will attract people from across
the state and nation. A new pool, four restaurants, expanded
bingo seating and a convention center are some of the
amenities that will be available when the Meskwaki dedicate
the expansion about a year from now.
said the gaming operation is being called Iowa's only
full-service casino because of the types of games offered
and amenities: People check in, gamble, take in a show
and eat without leaving the complex. No other gaming facility
in the state offers the same, he said.
plans include building a 500-car parking garage, golf
course and hiking trails.
member Alvin Bear on Thursday offered a blessing for the
ground, closing the ceremonial celebration. Before commencing,
he also offered a warning that Meskwaki legends foretold
what was happening.
Bear said elders pass on the stories so the Meskwaki people
are careful and that plans are well-considered.
we could make sure they don't get out of hand," Bear