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Ojibwa Casino Expansion Expected to Open in December

MARQUETTE, MI — The $34-million Marquette Ojibwa Casino expansion project, being constructed by Gundlach Champion, is on-schedule to open its doors before 2020, officials say.

“The project is moving along very well, and we are actually slated to open most of the new facility in December of this year. The only item that will open a bit later is the new restaurant that will feature menu items developed by Dave Anderson, founder of Famous Dave’s BBQ,” Casino General Manager Larry Denomie said in an email.

The new 1,200-seat event center will be the first part of the new casino to be completed, he said. In addition to the amphitheater, the new Keweenaw Bay Indian Community project will also feature a 400-seat convention space as well as 500 slot machines.

“We are getting calls regularly from large groups interested in renting the center to host their events,” Denomie said. “We are finalizing plans internally and will have contact information out so others seeking to host their events have a point of contact to work with.”

A new public water system, including a 186-foot-tall retention tower capable of holding 75,000 gallons, has been completed and is currently providing water to the casino, Denomie said. Construction of the water tower was financed by KBIC 2 percent gaming funds with Chocolay Township as a conduit.

The money will be reimbursed to KBIC by subtracting $62,000 annually from the township’s 2 percent gaming revenue payments over the next 10 years. The payments, which are required by Michigan tribe’s gaming compact with the state, represent 2 percent of slot machine revenues at tribal casinos and are distributed biannually to local municipalities.

“The new public water system is complete and providing water to the current casino as well as the KBIC Housing residents behind the casino,” Denomie said. “The system is now available to Chocolay Township as well to use as a firefighting resource in the area. The tower itself was constructed to provide the ability for companies to put antennas/towers on top of it. We recently had agreements approved with NMU and 906 Technologies to be the first ones to take advantage of the opportunity.”

In addition to the casino infrastructure improvements, the Michigan Department of Transportation is partnering with KBIC on a $564,000-project to reconstruct the M-28/Acre Trail intersection, which is the entrance to the casino.

“Left- and right-turn lanes will be added on M-28 to support the additional traffic and turning movements generated by the expansion. The project also includes concrete curb and gutter, new signs, pavement markings and centerline rumble strips,” an MDOT press release states.

Sixty percent of the project is funded with a Transportation Economic Development Fund Category A grant, with the remaining funds provided by MDOT and the KBIC.

“Our role is merely monetary in nature; we are providing matching funds toward the project cost,” Denomie said. “MDOT will be handling the entire project which will be [a] huge increase in traveling safely through that corridor and the entrance to the casino. We are thankful that MDOT saw the need to move this project forward for the safety of our customers, employees and those traveling through that area.”

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