he Cherokee Tribal Council approved an investment of $275 million destined to the expansion of the Valley River Casino in Murphy, with only two oppositions.
The plan itself has not been made public, and the projects included in the plan are not named in the resolution passed by the Tribal Council. Nevertheless, Brian Saunooke, Harrah’s Regional Vice President for Marketing, said that some of the features include an additional hotel tower -aside from the seven-storey hotel tower with 300 rooms-, an indoor pool, a new restaurant, a hotel lobby café, and a spa.
Additional gaming and parking spaces are also contemplated in the resolution, according to Saunooke.
“We are thrilled with the Tribal Council’s support of the resolution and are optimistic that Chief Sneed will ratify it,” he announced.
As Wolfetown Representative Chelsea Saunooke said, the master plan is of utmost importance to keep the casino ahead of the competition. “I want people to understand that right now as gaming stands, it funds 46.3% of our budget,” she pointed out. “If we don’t do more to offset competition, then we’re going to be sitting ducks”.
The approved master plan involves an investment of twice the figure that was spent to deliver the initial facility in september 2015. In 2018, a $13 million expansion added a 41,000-square-foot-entertainment area, which included bowling, 55 gaming units, video poker, arcade games and a full-service restaurant.
One of the main opponents of the resolution was Albert Rose, who proposed an amendment that would require the Council to contract with a firm to ensure that the project stays on budget. With the project under TCGE’s jurisdiction, which expansion project in Cherokee came in $80 million over budget, Rose demanded answers for that overrun, but his attempts to go against the resolution failed.
According to the resolution, the Tribal Casino Gaming Enterprise selected JCJ Architecture to develop the concept design and provide a cost estimate. To fund the project, the TCGE will obtain a loan not to exceed $275 million.