Hollywood Casino taking shape
It is five months away, but the buzz about the opening of the Hollywood Casino at Kansas Speedway is definitely in the air.
The evidence could be found this past race weekend, when the casino served as a sponsor of the Sunday Sprint Cup race and had a display out in the concourse.
“We had hundreds and hundreds of folks come up and ask us A, about jobs; B, about when are we going to build a hotel and when can I make a reservation,” said Bob Sheldon, general manager of the casino. “And they asked about their favorite games — are we going to have Wheel of Fortune, are we going to have ‘The Hangover’ slot machine?”
On Sunday, casino officials offered the media and others, including the head of Nascar, tours of the first phase of the casino, still under construction but on track to open in February 2012. The $411 million first phase includes 95,000 square feet and will have an estimated 4 million guests a year from a four-state area and economic impact of $220 million annually.
While locally, the cities of Bonner Springs and Edwardsville aren’t counting on casino revenues in their 2012 budgets, Sheldon said the casino is confident that it can meet revenue projections, noting interest in the casino in the Kansas City metro and beyond.
“The economy is a challenge, there’s no question about that,” Sheldon said. “Our hope is that we have a positive impact on the overall gaming market, in that we hope to grow the market here in the Kansas City metro area; that we don’t take the existing market and take a chunk out of it.”
Locally, he said the casino would be a draw because it is the first new casino in 16 years and is creating 1,000 jobs.
Promoters are also noting the casino will be the first land-based, Vegas-style casino in the Kansas City market – unlike the Missouri “riverboat” casinos – and will have ease of access since it has a separate entrance from the Speedway and Village West amenities.
Officials also hope to draw in guests with the casino’s design and state-of-the-art technology. Designed with 1930’s art deco features, it includes stonework imported from Israel on both the interior and exterior. Gaming areas will feature 2,000 slot machines, 40 live table games and a 12-table live poker room.
Dining options will include the 103-seat Final Cut Steakhouse and piano bar; the 282-seat Epic Buffet; the Turn Two sports bar, with an outdoor patio overlooking the racetrack; and casual dining in the Marquee Café.
The lighting of the casino may not feature quite as much neon as its Vegas counterparts. Instead, Sheldon said the more traditional lighting will be punctuated by high-tech video screens throughout the casino, including plasma screens, video trees and a serpentine, high-definition video wall that will play movie trailers.
Another feature will be a special clear glass surrounding the second-level sports bar that accepts video projections, so sports games or other promotions can be seen both within the bar and from the main floor.
All of this should have racecar fans, area residents and those from even further away anticipating the casino’s opening, Sheldon said.
“We’ll definitely have a growth on the market as a whole, despite the economy,” he said.