he new $400 million Desert Diamond West Valley casino in Glendale, Arizona, is more than twice the size of the original one built at the site, which also includes a resort. Tohono O'odham tribe's gaming enterprise oversees the project.
The addition of the resort combined with the popularity of the casino required an increase in the casino interior. The casino will cover 75,000 square feet, compared with the current facility's 35,000 sq. ft.
Desert Diamond Casinos & Entertainment, with three locations in Southern Arizona (Tucson, Sahuarita and Why) and one in the West Valley, is owned and operated by the Tohono O'odham Gaming Enterprise, a company of the Tohono O'odham Nation.
The new facility will employ about 1,600 people, feature a modern casino floor with slot machines, poker and blackjack tables and live bingo. The original casino did not include table games. The casino is being built adjacent to the temporary casino the tribe opened in 2015, near 93rd and Northern avenues. It is a long, curved purple-colored two-story building with a scenic circular pond in front.
Once complete, the full-scale casino property will create over 3,000 jobs and span more than 1 million sq. ft., including the expanded gaming floor, five dining venues, two covered parking garages and a water feature out front. The facility design is intended to complement the existing buildings of the surrounding Sports and Entertainment District in Glendale. Architectural motifs draw on desert imagery and traditional designs of the Tohono O'odham people.
The project is just one piece of the tribe's plan to transform its 135-acre property into a full-scale casino, resort and spa. The current phase of the tribe's project includes the new casino, a service building and two parking garages. The soft opening date planned for phase one of the new facility is the end of 2019, according to Construction Equipment Guide. The second phase includes a hotel and spa, which will come after phase 1 is completed.
The new casino development is a 20-month project, but the current casino remains open during construction. The new resort is situated north of the current interim casino, Desert Diamond, near Northern Avenue and Loop 101.
Once the new casino opens, the interim casino, which opened in 2015, will be used as a warehouse. Tohono O'odham Gaming Enterprise broke ground on the permanent, full-scale casino in December 2017 and construction is said to be moving forward aggressively.
AECOM Hunt/Penta Joint Venture is prime contractor. Dozens of companies have been retained and 1,500 workers contracted for the project. "Currently there have been 110 subcontractors that have worked on the project," said Treena Parvello, director of public relations and communications for the Tohono O'odham Gaming Enterprise.
The Tohono O'odham Nation first announced the major casino project Jan. 29, 2009. After overcoming challenges from opposition groups, an interim casino opened Dec. 20, 2015. It currently employs nearly 600 people.
As new construction began, Edward Manuel, chairman of the Tohono O'odham Nation said: "Today we celebrate how far we have come and how far we yet have to go in building a more prosperous future for the Nation and the West Valley. We will continue to work with our partners in the region for the benefit of all our communities."
Tribal officials now have the support of surrounding cities, such as Glendale and Peoria. The tribe initially faced resistance from Glendale and other tribes, and eventually from state leaders. After years of lawsuits, tribal and state leaders reached a settlement. The interim casino reportedly opened to large crowds.
Ruby Prieto, CEO of the Tohono O'odham Gaming Enterprise, said work on the onsite resort will start after the casino opens. That means resort construction could begin in early 2020, he said. Prieto said he isn't sure if the resort will be built and ready to open in time for the Super Bowl in 2023, which will be hosted a few blocks from the site at State Farm Stadium.