Excitement is building at Wildhorse Resort & Casino (WRC) as plans are finalized for the next phase of construction.
While the intent to expand has been known for some time, changes in the economy and trade have had an impact on planning. Until now, blueprints were in flux as executives and architects worked on a balance between budget and construction costs.
Sticking to the original spending plan became a challenge when the price of steel increased drastically. The planning team carefully prioritized elements of the overall vision and created a realistic and innovative strategy that works within the $85 million budget.
“After year-long meetings with WRC staff and the Board of Trustees, we finally settled on a project that we can afford,” said Chief Executive officer Gary George.
Wildhorse Resort & Casino is owned by the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indians. The tribe is governed by a board of trustees and the general council represents the Tribal members. Both entities have input regarding the operation and development of the resort.
By the end of 2020, the public will see the opening of a second hotel tower consisting of a mix of 214 executive suites and standard rooms. Added convention space will seat up to 1,500 in the main room.
Included will be a 24-lane bowling alley which was the impetus for the entire expansion. The space will include a bar and pool tables; eight lanes will be separate and will be available for private and special events.
A 24-hour restaurant and a food court will be added and an expanded family entertainment center will house a childcare center and an expanded arcade that will be large enough for about 40 games.
A new poker room is expected to seat up to 90 players and will operate daily.
Space for future businesses is also included. The entire expansion will be surrounded by an enlarged parking area.
The courtyard hotel, which was the original hotel built in 1996, will be leveled to make way for the new construction. The last day for guests to check out will be March 31, 2019. Demolition will begin after those rooms are emptied of all furniture and décor. Hot Rock Café will close at the same time.
Demolition of the original hotel will be bittersweet for staff and guests and will have the resort short 100 rooms until the new tower opens. Staff will be referring guests to local hotels in Pendleton for lodging during that time.
Long term impacts to the community will be an increase in visitors and more jobs added to the local economy. The expanded facilities and bowling alley will bring in tournaments, larger conventions, and bigger entertainment.
“The project will move to the board of trustees and the general council in the next month or two for final approval,” George said.
This will be the fifth expansion for the resort since it first opened in 1994 with only a small, temporary structure and 100 slot machines.