he expansion will add a total of 5,574 sqm to the existing facility, and will double the current casino floor square footage by incorporating an additional 3,576 sqm of new gaming space with approximately 600 new slot machines and 20 additional table games, including a poker room.
The expanded portion of the casino floor will be located on a single level, creating better access and convenience for guests. In addition, the expansion will result in a more spacious and comfortable experience for guests, since the company intends to double the casino square footage, but not the number of machines or table games.
The expansion also will feature an elaborate central bar area and two additional bars, a deli restaurant, a new 1,000-space parking garage and an upscale Star Club VIP lounge. Access to the casino will be improved with an additional garage entrance, an enhanced connector from the existing garage and better access from the existing streetscape.
"This proposal demonstrates Ameristar’s continuing commitment to provide the best amenities and highest quality facilities, which along with our team members create the best-in-market casino experiences for our guests," said John Boushy, Ameristar CEO and President. "Our Council Bluffs property has performed exceptionally well, improving its EBITDA and operating margins since the second quarter of 2006 in the face of a larger competitive facility."
Boushy went on to say, "We believe our Council Bluffs property has additional growth opportunities. The latent market growth, coupled with the creative and innovative way the expansion engages and utilizes the existing vessel will generate a good return for our shareholders. We are confident this project can help us reduce capacity constraints during peak periods and increase revenues for our property and for the market overall. In addition, we expect that the project will drive increased visitation to the market and provide additional tax revenues."
Ameristar’s proposal to invest in our successful Council Bluffs property demonstrates our determination to double Ameristar’s EBITDA in the next three to five years through a 50-50 growth strategy. The Company expects approximately half of that EBITDA growth will come through acquisitions such as the recently announced agreement to purchase Resorts East Chicago, and the other half will come through capital improvement projects at existing properties like Council Bluffs.
Ameristar has the ability to fully fund this expansion within its existing capital structure. Subject to the receipt of necessary regulatory approvals, the Company expects the Council Bluffs expansion to be completed in mid-2009.
Teresa Meyer, Council Bluffs General Manager, said, "Ameristar is committed to the highest standards of design and construction and our expansion at Council Bluffs will be no exception. Since opening Ameristar Council Bluffs in 1996, we have reinvested more than us$ 80 million in the facility, creating the only casino-hotel in Iowa to hold the American Automobile Association (AAA) Four Diamond designation. The property also currently boasts four restaurants, four bars, meeting space and an indoor swimming pool. Now with the proposed casino expansion, improved access and more parking spaces, we are confident this project will significantly enhance the guest experience."
The exterior of the facility will retain its existing character, with an architectural design reminiscent of a gateway river town. In its entirety, Ameristar Council Bluffs will resemble a riverboat docked at an historic building.