The Alabama-based Indian tribe who buys the $ 1.3 billion Sands casino is planning to immediately invest $ 190 million in a 300-room hotel expansion and development. 2 Machine Shop, possibly into an indoor water park.
Leaders of Wind Creek Hospitality joined forces with lehighvalleylive.com on Tuesday afternoon at Sands Casino Resort Bethlehem as part of a series of local news channel meetings.
This is the first time the Poark Band of Creek Indians branch has publicly talked about its site plans since it was announced on March 8, 2018, that Wind Creek is planning to buy one of Pennsylvania's most lucrative gaming halls. Sales continue to be governed by government gambling rules regulatory process.
The Sands & # 39; game success associated with the high-quality development of the property attracted Wind Creek who attempted to diversify its assets, a process it began in 201[ads1]4, said Jay Dorris, President and CEO of Wind Creek.
"When we begin to look around the world for quality properties that are in good shape, it is established, which is very successful, there are not so many of them. And this property certainly checks all these boxes," he said. "We looked at it. Lehigh Valley is growing, it does pretty well. The property has done pretty well, and as I said we checked all the boxes that were important to us."
Once the sale is approved by Pennsylvania game regulators, Wind Creek is ready to start earning $ 190 million for the 124-acre former Bethlehem Steel Plant, which in recent years has put in an eternal state, as two potential sales fell apart.
Las Vegas Sands Corp. has long made it clear that the smallest – but very profitable business in Bethlehem could
First, Wind Creek plans to spend $ 90 million to build another 300-inch hotel tower with event site hoping to open in two years, Dorris said. The new tower would be built perpendicular to the existing hotel in the parking lot.
"This property that we do not believe needs a lot of work. Obviously, the name of the name is something that must happen," says Dorris. "The other thing that attracted us to this property and this region is that we think it is expansion opportunity and then out of the gate, our desire is to add another hotel tower. "
There are no plans to follow through on a $ 90 million game floor expansion Sands began and then stopped. Tweaks the Sands already made for the game floor – consisting of about 3,000 slot machines and 254 table games – has met that demand, said Sands Bethlehem President and COO Brian Carr, who plans to continue with Wind Creek after the sale. 19659013] Brian Carr, president and COO of Sands Casino Resort Bethlehem, discusses January 15, 2019, inside the casino hotel plans from Wind Creek Hospitality to buy and rebrand the facility. ” sizes=”(max-width: 599px) 599px, (min-width: 600px) 881px, (min-width: 980px) 533px, 599px”/>
The hotel is consistently on the 95 percent occupancy, so it's good to invest the money there, Carr said. With 300 rooms and extra meeting rooms, Wind Creek Bethlehem will be able to attract larger conventions and meetings, he said.
"I think we are all happy that we have new owners who come into the first thing they want to do is start realizing some of that potential and we know that development is raging more and so I think what it should be do for Bethlehem and for the Lehigh Valley, and for this part of Pennsylvania it will be a terrible lot of really good news for all of us, "Carr said.
Sands employs about 2,500 people, all of whom want to keep their jobs, and the hotel expansion is expected to add another 400 workers, plus an unknown number of construction workers. All of the existing restaurants, including Chef Emeril Lagasse's eateries, remain, Carr said.
"It's good staff here and we want them to stay," Dorris said.
Which casino sale to Indian tribe means for Bethlehem Steel land (MAP)
Wind Creek has earmarked an additional $ 100 million to begin reimagining No.2 Machine Shop for a "non-gaming facility," Dorris said. He acknowledged that an indoor water park is one of the ideas under consideration, but emphasized that it is still under study.
"We work with various architects, engineers, opportunity consultants to see what makes sense." Sa Dorris. "… We think we can diversify the appeal of the property in the area. So we are looking for what we can add that would be appealing to people who may not come today but would be interested if we could give them the right thing. "
Bethlehem Mayor Bob Donchez said Monday he is hopeful Wind Creek can move on fast.
"I've been very impressed with Wind Creek's management and impressed in our private discussions about what they would like to do with the site," Donchez said.
The Famous No. 2 Machine Store ranges from the Sands outlet mall down to the ArtsQuest Center on SteelStacks. At one time the plans of a Bass Pro store, hotel and conference center in the building called, but they were never materialized.
When asked if Wind Creek planned to preserve the well-built building where marine ammunition was once created, Dorris said, There is a lot of study and planning that needs to go into it. But it is a very important structure, and if there is a way to exploit that structure, I think it would be preferable. "
Future owners are obliged to work to preserve the iconic Bethlehem Steel ovens and leave the opportunity to complete the Hoover Mason Trestle, the elevated linear park that provides near view of the stacks. continue the walkway with potential features in the hardware store and the hotel.
"No plans are ready for what hardware store # 2 can be," Dorris said. "What I want to point out though: If it becomes a major attraction, it certainly makes sense for us to have easy access between that facility and this facility as easy as it can be. What in the past looks like we don't know yet. "
With growing gaming competition from neighboring states, it is clear that Wind Creek wants to diversify the property's entertainment offerings while adhering to the strong customer base Sands has built. Las Vegas Sands, whose leader discourages online gaming.
The Sands received online gaming approvals on behalf of Wind Creek earlier this fall, also winning a bid for one of Pennsylvania's mini-casino licenses, but the bid invalidated when it was discovered that the approved Mercer County satellite site violated the territory required by another license.The new owners found the potential location along the Ohio border interesting, said Carr, and it is up to him to identify similar unique opportunities if they
Leaders on Tuesday were hesitant to discuss the future of iGaming or sports betting in light of the release of a departe meant by the justice note on Monday questioning the viability of online games crossing state lines. An Obama-era opinion found that the federal Wire Act, which prohibits interstate rates, is only used for sports gambling. 23-page opinion released Monday interprets the law to apply to any kind of game that crosses state lines.
The 2011 opinion opened the door to money-backed states and their lotteries to bring online gambling to their residents, as long as it did not involve interstate sports betting.
Nevada, New Jersey and Delaware legalized online gambling after the sentence was issued, and the three countries have agreements that allow poker players to compete online over the countries. Pennsylvania became the fourth state to legalize online casino games in 2017.
Officials refused to address any details of the ongoing agreement, such as who buys what.
"We control the site," said Arthur Mothershed, Vice President of Business Development for Wind Creek.
Today, Las Vegas Sands is the majority owner of Sands BethWorks Gaming LLC, which owns the event center, casino and surrounding land of a total of 56 acres. Local lawyer and developer Michael Perrucci, real estate developer Barry Gosin and business partners in New York, have approximately 10 percent stake in BethWorks Gaming.
The rest of the country, nearly 61 acres, is owned by Sands BethWorks Retail LLC, and the ownership is shared 50/50 between Sands and Perrucci and his partners. BethWorks Retails holdings include the outlet mall, ovens, the Steel General Office building, No. 2 hardware store, and several parking lots.
Carr, who has been with Las Vegas Sands for four years, is excited to get her hand in making the future of the former flagship Bethlehem Steel plant after spending time staring out in the countryside and thinking about what could be, he said.
It may take months before the sale is complete. The Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board background survey and approval of Wind Creek and tribal principles is ongoing, spokesman Doug Harbach spokesman said Monday. No formal request for ownership change of the gaming license has been filed, he said.
"When sent, we would have a hearing. Harrisburg and our employees would look at the financial aspects of the agreement. The board would then vote on the change of control," says Harbach. It is safe to say that the process can be shortened a little, but will still be a number for months after a petition is sent. "
Wind Creek and Sands see the change of ownership as the final step in the sales process, hoping to tackle the background wetting and transferring the property in one meeting, Carr said. 19659019] What you need to know about the Indian tribe buying Sands Bethlehem
When the sale is complete, it will be one of Wind Creeks largest holdings of 159,000 square feet.
Until recently, Wind Creek has only owned three casinos in tribal land in Alabama with over 2,600 games, but no table games. Today, Wind Creek runs nine game properties, in Alabama, Nevada, Florida and the Caribbean. A five-member chairman oversees Wind Creek, which reports directly to the nine members of the Tribal Council.
The 3,000 member family is the only federally recognized tribe in Alabama that operates as a sovereign nation.  Wind Creek wants Lehigh Valley to know it's not just a business case, Mothershed said. His record in Alabama shows that Wind Creek invests in schools, nonprofits, community groups, and local hospitals in Alabama, says Brent Pinkston, Wind Creek COO.
"We see ourselves as a partner in society, not just a business," Mothershed said.
If the sale goes through, the city and the Bethlehem Area School District stand to receive a cash rainfall. Assuming everything is for sale, the real estate tax net can change the district and city up to $ 6.5 million.
The Associated Press contributed to this story.
Sara K. Satullo can be reached at email@example.com. Follow her on Twitter @sarasatullo and Facebook. Find lehighvalleylive.com on Facebook.