River Spirit breaks ground on expansion

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Reported by: Farron Salley
Updated: 10/15/2013 5:01 pm Published: 10/15/2013 5:01 pm

River Spirit Casino is planning to hire as many as 1,800 construction workers to complete its new development.

Officials broke ground on the multimillion-dollar project on Tuesday.

During the two years River Spirit expects it will take to finish construction, officials plan on bringing in an economic impact totaling around $300 million.

Once the development is complete, officials plan on keeping a stable and high number of jobs and money in the area.

"Each year after that the estimate was over $135 million," said Pat Crofts, CEO of Muscogee Nation Casinos.

That's how much officials think the casino will bring in annually after the construction is done.

"While we're waiting for the river to get full with a low water dam we're Going to have our own water feature and beach out there," said Crofts.

Construction will cost $335 million, part of which will pay for nearly 2,000 construction workers.

And when it's done, the casino plans to add 800 new full-time positions.

"It means jobs number one, it means revenues from this great project. That rolls into being able to provide much needed services to our tribal members" said George Tiger, Muscogee Nation chief.

River Spirit also expects the expansion to indirectly create another 1,000 jobs.

New features like Jimmy Buffet's Margaritaville and a beach bar venue will also bring more attention to the Arkansas River.

"We'll have something that we can grow towards from the downtown area towards this facility we'll be able to grow towards it and really emphasize the river as an economic development opportunity for our future," said Tulsa Mayor Dewey Bartlett.

That makes the casino's 26-story expansion an incentive for the city of Tulsa.

It’s one Chief Tiger says will lead it to a recession-proof industry.

"Historically even with gaming industries throughout the country while there was a recession it didn't really impact us that much on the gaming side," said Tiger.

The new hotel will fit 483 rooms and some of the casino's expansions will include a steakhouse, a new entertainment venue as well as the Margaritaville complex.

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