Issue 252
July 11 - July 17, 2005
Volume 5
page 1

This Issue

Gaming News

Argosy breaks ground for luxury hotel

Tama, Iowa, tribe breaks ground on hotel-casino expansion

Demolition of shuttered casino will begin

Arapaho plan expansion, new casino

MEC to Sell Canadian Racino to Gaming Company

Show Time Destiny's Child performs at Mohegan Sun.

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Argosy breaks ground for luxury hotel

KANSAS CITY, Missouri - Calling it "the last missing piece," Argosy General Manager Gary Johnson directed groundbreaking ceremonies Thursday for a 250-room hotel at the Riverside casino complex.

The $75 million project includes a 1,200-car parking garage to replace a smaller garage razed to make room for the nine-story hotel, which will have meeting rooms, a fitness center, a day spa, a piano bar and a private garden for special events.

Argosy's $105 million, Mediterranean-themed casino expansion opened 18 months ago. That doubled the size of its gaming floor and helped bump the riverboat's market share by about 8 percent.

With the hotel's luxury suites, plasma-screen televisions in every room plus casino restaurants and banquet facilities, "Argosy becomes a true tourist destination," Johnson said.

Argosy's groundbreaking came just 30 days ahead of the scheduled Aug. 1 opening of a 192-room hotel addition at Harrah's North Kansas City Casino and Hotel, which also is adding new restaurants and night clubs this year.

The groundbreaking also leaves the Isle of Capri Casino near downtown as Kansas City's lone gambling boat without lodging.

Calling Argosy "a community partner," Riverside Mayor Betty Burch praised the firm's $180 million capital investment, and said, "It means more job opportunities in our city ... we need the jobs."

The hotel, designed by Peckham Guyton Albers & Viets Inc., of Westwood, will be a sheer glass tower but with a skyline facade of Italian villas stretching across its entire length and carrying out the property's Mediterranean village theme.

"We tried to design a hotel that turns heads," said Paul Keller, Argosy's design and construction vice president. The nearly dozen false building fronts will stand two to four stories against the hotel's glass backdrop.

The general contractor for the hotel project is Walton Construction, of Kansas City.

The hotel is scheduled to open in early 2007. By then Argosy is expected to be part of the portfolio of Pennsylvania-based Penn National Gaming, which is acquiring Illinois-based Argosy Gaming Co. in a deal valued at $2.2 billion. The transaction is expected to close in the third quarter this year.

The combined operation would be the nation's third-largest gaming firm, with 13 casinos, racetracks and off-track wagering facilities.

Burch said Riverside hoped that Argosy's latest expansion plus a planned redesign of Interstate 635 exits within sight of the property would trigger a retail building boom in the area.

The city's master plan for the area is still a work in progress, but Burch said, "We're looking for a big box" to anchor a shopping area west of the casino.

Meanwhile, Johnson said Thursday that he was hoping to ignite city interest in an outdoor amphitheater or other live entertainment venue on property north of the casino and just west of a city park.

Tama, Iowa, tribe breaks ground on hotel-casino expansion
As reported by
Waterloo-Cedar Falls Courier, Iowa

TAMA, 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.

"When 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.

Plans 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.

During the height of construction, contractors will employ 475 people.

Once open, the facility will add about 400 employees to the 1,150 already working full time.

Ray 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.

Young Bear said the red barn symbolically made way for the casino complex. And he said the expansion will diversify economic opportunities for the tribe.

Since 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 building homes.

Despite 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.

"This has been on the drawing board for several years," Stromer said.

He 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.

Stromer 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.

Future plans include building a 500-car parking garage, golf course and hiking trails.

Tribal 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.

"So we could make sure they don't get out of hand," Bear said.

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