Posted: Oct 31, 2006, 7:29 AM
Join Date: Jul 2006
Location: Hammond, Indiana
MICHIGAN CITY, IN | Blue Chip Casino Hotel | HEIGHT | 22 FLOORS
Blue Chip plans 22-story hotel
By Jason Miller, The News-Dispatch
Michigan City's skyline will look dramatically different by the end of 2008 under plans by Boyd Gaming to build a 22-story hotel tower at Blue Chip Casino.
Boyd Gaming executives included the announcement as part of the company's conference call with investors to discuss its third quarter financial results.
According to the Las Vegas-based company, the project will cost $130 million and will add some 300 rooms to the complex, which already has a 184-room hotel.
The new space will also include a spa and fitness center, additional meeting and event space, new dining and nightlife experiences and a more dramatic entrance.
Rob Stillwell, Boyd Gaming's vice president of corporate communications, said Friday the new hotel will be built to the north of the existing casino facility, not far from its entrance off U.S. 12 and along Trail Creek.
“We're still refining the design details, so we won't have a rendering until we're ready to break ground,” Stillwell said. “We'll integrate it so it will look like it was all part of the original plan.”
Sue Bietry, executive director of the LaPorte County Convention & Visitors Bureau, said the announcement was exciting.
“I knew they were planning an expansion. This was all part of their plan,” she said. “I think it's great they're expanding. It's a good thing for the community.”
Bietry said the additional hotel rooms will benefit the local economy.
“I think it's nothing but a positive,” she said. “It will attract more visitors, which will improve the economy. The whole thing is a real positive for the area. We're anxious to see it happen.”
Blue Chip opened a new, $170 million casino boat in January that doubled the amount of gaming space in the company's original riverboat.
That boat now sits vacant at the stern of the new boat and, said Stillwell, is being dismantled.
The moves are being made at a time when Blue Chip is preparing to face new competition from a land-based Indian casino being built about 12 miles to the north near New Buffalo, Mich.
Boyd officials maintain that the New Buffalo casino is not a driving force in its expansion efforts at Blue Chip.
Mayor Chuck Oberlie said Friday the city has been kept abreast of Blue Chip's plans.
“We're supportive of what they're doing,” Oberlie said.
During Boyd Gaming's third quarter report, the company's Central Region, which includes Blue Chip Casino, has a 16.8 percent increase in revenue over the same period from one year ago. Net revenue for the Central Region was $241.1 million, up from $208.9 million in 2005.
Contact reporter Jason Miller at email@example.com.
Blue Chip casino plans 22-story, $130M hotel, poising it for growth
October 28, 2006
BY PIET LEVY Post-Trbune
Casino operations are not just getting bigger in Northwest Indiana. They are now getting taller, too.
Parent company Boyd Gaming announced that its Michigan City casino, Blue Chip, will break ground in the spring on a $130 million hotel that will be 22 stories tall with 300 rooms. Completion is slated for late 2008.
By comparison, the existing hotel at Blue Chip offers 184 rooms in an eight-story building.
No building in Northwest Indiana comes even close to the height of the proposed hotel. The Twin Towers office complex at the Star Plaza in Merrillville is just seven stories tall.
Rob Stillwell, vice president of corporate communications for Boyd Gaming, said customer demand calls for the new hotel in the wake of the casino's recent $170 million expansion, which led to a new and bigger facility. The expansion elevated the casino brand and brought in a "lot of new faces," Stillwell said.
And now those new faces need a place to stay. "We have a hotel that is nearly full all the time," Stillwell said. "We're turning down several reservation inquiries every single week, every single day. ... (The new hotel) allows us to expand our overnight business and really that is where the greatest potential for growth is."
Stillwell said a substantial number of local construction workers will be employed in the building stages.
Michigan City Mayor Chuck Oberlie said the city is prepared for an influx of traffic and welcomes it.
"It will invite people in for more than one day and one night to bring the family to do some shopping and enjoy the lakefront," Oberlie said.
The still-unnamed hotel, whose design is under wraps until construction time, will offer lake views and include a fitness and spa facility, convention space, show space and more dining and nightlife options.
It ups the ante in the ever-increasing casino expansion wars that have hit the area. Work already has begun on a new $485 million casino facility for Horseshoe Hammond, which will include one floor of gaming and an entertainment center on the second floor.
And Blue Chip will face stiff competition from the new Four Winds casino, which will be only a few minutes away in New Buffalo, Mich.
The land-based facility, a Pokagon brand casino of the Potawatomi American Indians, is slated to open in August 2007 and will boast 137,000 square feet of gaming space, six restaurants and a 160-room suite hotel in a North Woods atmosphere. The facility is situated on 675 acres, meaning there's plenty of room for expansion.
Tom Shields, spokesman for Four Winds casino, speculates that the Blue Chip hotel is being built in the wake of Four Winds. He isn't concerned about the competition, saying that land-based casinos historically do better than riverboat casino facilities like Blue Chip.
"We feel very comfortable and confident that the Four Winds casino will be the most exciting entertainment opportunity in the area for casino gaming," Shields said.
Ron Koziol, a Midwest gaming consultant, said Blue Chip will face some stiff competition from Four Winds, but the new hotel will certainly help.
"Native American casinos have a reputation of building beautiful casinos and adding new amenities and adding new things to attract a gambler ...," Koziol said. "(Blue Chip) should have something like that (hotel) to be able to compete."
Stillwell and Koziol agree that the gaming market in Northwest Indiana is on the upswing, and all the expansion and competition will bring greater attention, and more money, to the area.
Joseph DeRosa, senior vice president and general manager of Resorts East Chicago, welcomes the new Blue Chip hotel, even though his resort has no major renovations to announce -- yet.
"I still stand by the attitude that a rising tide brings up all the boats," DeRosa said. "I'm very excited about any and all development in the area because it brings more people to the state. ... But at the end of the day, the competitive edge is given to the property with the best service more so than to a particular facility."
Contact Piet Levy at 648-3102 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Maybe Hammond can get a highrise hotel at the Horseshoe Casino. Horseshoe is the biggest money maker in the area. I've wondered why they haven't.
The casino in East Chicago built a 15 story hotel.
Last edited by kalmia; Oct 31, 2006 at 7:35 AM.