Tribe takes gamble

Published 12:35 am Sunday, October 26, 2008

By By Adam Prestridge
Prior to beginning construction of their 17-story casino and hotel off Interstate 65, the largest debt the Poarch Band of Creek Indians had was just over $2.5 million.
The cost of building the state-of-the-art high-rise far exceeds that with final totals expected to top out near $235 million, 93 times more than debts of the past. Creek Indian Enterprises president and CEO Tim Martin said when the announcement to build Wind Creek Casino and Hotel was made anxiety was a common feeling among Tribal members.
Martin said that anxiety has now changed to excitement as the January 2009 opening of the casino quickly approaches.
Pre-construction cost estimates were much higher than the final cost estimates allowing the Tribe to add onto the project with more amenities such as the resort’s spa and culinary school.
Martin said by adding the spa and culinary school it “keeps guests on property” and will also hopefully attract guests that don’t gamble.
Martin said Angus’ experience in casino construction has proven invaluable,
Martin said it took a number of talented Tribal officials to secure the loan to carry out this multi-million dollar project.
“People don’t realize, but we put together a management team that we took to market,” Martin said. “That’s the reason we were able to get the money that we got was that we had a very solid, experienced management team.”
Martin added that as construction has continued, the Tribe has been able to pay for some of the project out of pocket with profits generated from its current operation, Creek Entertainment Center.
Some added costs were incurred to build the casino and hotel at its location off Exit 57 with its design having to take in to account the Tribe’s current gaming facility and relocation and demolition of those buildings, once the new facility is completed.
To save as much money as possible, Tribe will utilize the Creek Entertainment Center’s building for use at gaming operations north of Atmore.
Once the current gaming center is relocated, it will make room for the resort’s amenities scheduled to open June of 2009.
As for future developments, the Tribe is not done investing in its future.
Retail development will also be added along Hwy. 29 fronting the casino in the future, Martin said.
Utility improvements are also in store for the future.

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