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Osage Casino officials announce preliminary plans for Tulsa casino and hotel

Osage Casino officials announced preliminary plans for a new Tulsa casino, which include a 132-room hotel and conference facility to go with a larger gaming venue for its north Tulsa property.

The proposed larger gaming venue will be located next to the current casino along 36th Street North about 10 minutes north of the downtown area. Osage Casinos CEO Byron Bighorse discussed preliminary plans for the Nation’s flagship casino during an Aug. 28 ON Congressional Commerce and Economic Development Committee meeting.

Bighorse said plans for the Tulsa casino are downscaled from earlier plans proposed by former casino management before Bighorse was hired in December 2014. Around that time, Bighorse said Tulsa casino project plans that were proposed by former CEO Neil Cornelius were much larger and would cost $400-plus million to build.

“Ever since we had the opportunity to take a look at this internally from a fiscal standpoint, fiduciary standpoint, we’ve reduced the (project) significantly,” Bighorse said. “What this has done is right-size this project for the future.”

“We’ve cut this down to a 132-room hotel – in a phase approach – we’ll have about 1,500 slots, this will include a junior ballroom… It has 126 king/ queen doubles” standard rooms with the remaining six rooms to be built as suites, Bighorse said. The hotel will be built as a six-story structure and the property will have other amenities including a sports bar, grab-n-go eatery, a larger concept-style eatery, parking garage and convention space.

The Aug. 28 meeting to discuss the casino plans and other gaming matters is a first of several that will continue before Congress approves the 2016 fiscal year gaming plan of operations, said Congressman William “Kugee” Supernaw who chairs the commerce committee. That means the Congress will have the final say to vote on the casino expansion plans or whether they should be amended. Several ON officials and citizens expressed concern over the initial $400 million-plus plans for its size and cost earlier this year, prompting a review and reduction of the Tulsa project.

Bighorse said the current Osage Event Center on the west side of the casino will be demolished and the larger main casino would be built in its place and the hotel would be built behind the current casino. Bighorse did not discuss the cost numbers of building the casino, which were discussed in an executive session following the public portion of the meeting.

It’s also unknown how many jobs will be created for the casino/ hotel property.

Bighorse said there will be room for the casino venue to grow at a later time, which could include a larger entertainment center, but the proposed junior ball room will serve as the venue for events, concerts, etc. and will mirror the size of the current Osage Event Center.

Pending approval of the gaming plan of operations, Bighorse said a preliminary grand opening of the Tulsa casino/ hotel project is scheduled for October 2017.

In the meantime, Bighorse said a request for proposals (RFP) is being developed to hire a construction firm/ manager for the project. Casino management is working with Las Vegas-based Marnell Architecture on the project designs and Osage-owned Stonebridge Group LLC will serve as the owner’s representative on the project.

Check back for more information in updates posted to www.osagenews.org