Casino expansion in Michigan to be completed soon

Finally and after a long delay that took years and years, the KBIC( Keweenaw Bay Indian Community’s $34 million casino project is apparently under schedule and will be unveiled on December 2019. Basically, people in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula are just a few short months away from having an astonishing casino right down the street, so to speak.

A traditional and spectacular ceremony for the Marquette Ojibwa Casino expansion and improvement project was already held 3 years ago in December. The many delays and financial problems pushed back the day of the big reveal to 2018, and later to December of this year, although many financial experts predicted it would go well into 2020.

The project is on target to be completed within budget

According to the local newspaper, The Mining Journal, the casino’s General Manager, Larry Denomie, said in Tuesday email last week…

“The project is moving along very well and we are actually slated to open most of the new facility in December of this year. The only item that will open a bit later is the new restaurant that will feature menu items developed by Dave Anderson, founder of Famous Dave’s BBQ.”

What’s included and what’s not:

The zone in which the location is built is more than perfect, being located on a rural stretch across the M28 highway in Chocolay Township. The plan for the casino included a complete resort that would also have a hotel involved, but that part of the plan was cut down due to insufficient funding and other organizational problems that the owners and stakeholders did not want to disclose publicly at this time.

However, even if the casino will not include a hotel in its resort, Phase 1 of the project includes a new 1,200-seat event center, a convention space of a couple of hundreds of seats and a 500 slot machine structure that represents almost double the size of the current structure.

Denomie, reportedly said that they…

…” are getting calls regularly from large groups interested in renting the center to host their events. We are finalizing plans internally and will have contact information out so others seeking to host their events have a point of contact to work with.”

Public water system:

Already finished is a new public water system, complete with a 186-foot-tall retention tower with a 75,000-gallon capacity, which KBIC 2 percent gaming funds financed, with Chocolay Township as a conduit, according to the news agency.

“The new public water system is complete and providing water to the current casino as well as the KBIC Housing residents behind the casino,” said Denomie. “The system is now available to Chocolay Township as well to use as a firefighting resource in the area. The tower itself was constructed to provide the ability for companies to put antennas/towers on top of it. We recently had agreements approved with NMU and 906 Technologies to be the first ones to take advantage of the opportunity.”

KBIC will be reimbursed via annual payments of $62,000 taken from the township’s two percent gaming revenue payments over the next decade. The annual payments that would go towards paying back KBIC will be structured in $62,000 increments taken from the townships’ 2 percent gaming revenue, every month for the next decade.

Required by Michigan tribe’s gaming compact with the state, the payments represent two percent of tribal casino’s slot machine revenue and are dispursed twice a year to local municipalities. Te payments are dispursed two times every year to local municipalities, a requirement from Michigan’s tribe gaming’s contract with the state.

MDOT project:

The Michigan Department of Transportation is also a partner of KBIC in the reconstruction project of M-28/Acre Trail Intersection, that just began earlier this August.

According to the 13th of August press conference:

“Left- and right-turn lanes will be added on M-28 to support the additional traffic and turning movements generated by the expansion. The project also includes concrete curb and gutter, new signs, pavement markings, and centerline rumble strips.”

Expected to be completed on Sept. 27, the project is courtesy of a Transportation Economic Development Fund (TEDF) Category A grant, which was secured to pay for sixty percent of the reconstruction, with MDOT and the KBIC contributing the remaining matching funds.

Denomie said…

“Our role is merely monetary in nature; we are providing matching funds toward the project cost. MDOT will be handling the entire project which will be (a) huge increase in traveling safely through that corridor and the entrance to the casino. We are thankful that MDOT saw the need to move this project forward for the safety of our customers, employees and those traveling through that area.”

Hotel not feasible:

 As we have mentioned above, the much-needed hotel was, of course, part of the initial plan, mainly because the closest lodging is a 5-mile drive on a rural highway. As a compromise, the casino has a shuttle bus operation that works 4 days/week.

About the fact that a hotel will not be in the future plans, Denomie declared:

“Of course we are disappointed that we weren’t able to get the hotel into Phase I of the project, but with good working relationships with hoteliers in the Marquette area and a robust transportation program, we will make sure our customers are able to safely enjoy the new casino while leaving the driving to get to their hotel in town to us.”

Hedge your bets:

With an anticipated uptick in business, it’s assumed that the casino’s  “robust transportation program” is a significant improvement over the existing one.

Denomie added…

The project is on target to be completed within budget — and I’m hopeful, slightly under budget! The Keweenaw Bay Indian Community will have invested nearly $50 million into the Baraga and Marquette Casinos when all is said and done — a historical and much-needed investment. The new Marquette Casino is going to be beautiful and unique to any other casino in the region.”