Gaming Commission approves Blue Sky proposal; Project to employ an
estimated 1,400 in Orange County
June 23, 2005 - FRENCH LICK, Ind. - The Indiana Gaming Commission today
gave Blue Sky Casino, LLC, the approval needed to move forward on its ambitious
plans to return French Lick Springs' resort community to its former splendor
by creating the French Lick Springs Resort & Casino and the West Baden
Springs Resort. Opening is scheduled for December 2006.
A joint venture between Lauth Resorts & Casino, LLC, an affiliate
of Lauth Group, Inc., and Orange County Holdings, Inc., a not-for-profit,
charitable organization formed by the Cook Group family of companies to
fund charitable and philanthropic purposes within the state, Blue Sky will
spend more than $250 million to construct an 80,000-square-foot, nautical-themed
casino and to renovate French Lick's two world-famous historic hotels -
the French Lick Springs Resort and neighboring West Baden Springs Resort
and its famed dome. Upon completion of the resorts, there will be approximately
680 guest rooms and suites; state-of-the-art, 75,000 square-foot conference
and convention facilities; and a full array of resort recreational amenities
including two golf courses (one of which is the original Donald Ross PGA
Championship course), and a full-service spa.
"Blue Sky's goal is to create the Midwest's premier resort destination
with an elegant dedication to meetings and conventions, health and recreation,"
said Lauth Group CEO Robert Lauth. "With this approval, we have a unique
opportunity to not only revive two of this nation's most historic resorts,
but also to bring economic vitality to the French Lick area."
As part of the joint venture, Orange County Holdings, Inc., will fund
charitable and philanthropic purposes such as programs to promote economic
growth and quality of life in and around Orange County; education programs;
and projects to support historic preservation and restoration.
"This is a truly historic step forward for the people of Orange County
and the rest of the state," said Steve Ferguson, chairman of Cook Group.
"By approving this gaming license application, the Indiana Gaming Commission
has put the final piece of the economic development puzzle in place for
an area that has long suffered high unemployment and a lowered standard
of living. We appreciate the trust the commission members have placed on
the joint venture's ability to deliver on its promises, and I can assure
everyone with an interest in this project that we will see this grand vision
through to completion."
Renovation work has already begun on the French Lick Springs Resort,
and full- scale construction is set to begin Oct. 1, 2005. Completion of
the casino, parking garage, event center, golf courses, and the first 200
rooms at French Lick Springs Resort and related amenities is slated for
December 2006. In the project's second phase, Blue Sky expects to finish
restoring the 240 rooms at the West Baden Springs Resort by July 2007.
The final 240 rooms at the French Lick Springs Resort will be finished
by December 2007.
Majestic Star Casino, a multi-jurisdictional gaming company, will manage
the casino, and Benchmark Hospitality International will operate the resorts.
Working with Blue Sky on the architecture and design of the resorts and
casino are architects, G.S. Ridgway & Associates, and the Worth Group.
The casino and two resort properties, when completed and operating at
full capacity, will employ approximately 1,400 individuals. Further, Blue
Sky estimates the casino will generate an annual $32.6 million in annual
admission and gaming tax revenue on $115 million of adjusted annual gaming
revenue, as well as $3.2 million annually in local incentives*.
With more than 3,000 acres available for additional development, Blue
Sky plans to add, as part of a phased expansion, numerous additional amenities
including a new championship golf course, new or expanded meeting and convention
space, additional retail development, town homes, and more.
*As calculated by the Innovation Group, May 2005.
The Blue Sky Team comprises Lauth Resorts & Casino, LLC, an affiliate
of Lauth Group, Inc., and Orange County Holdings, Inc., a charitable, not-for-profit
organization formed by the Cook Group family of companies.
Lauth Group, Inc.
Since 1977, Lauth has developed billions of dollars worth of facilities
throughout the United States. A licensed general contractor in 49 states
with projects completed coast to coast, Lauth is one of the nation's leading
development and construction firms. With headquarters in Indianapolis and
offices in Charlotte, Denver, Nashville and Orlando, Lauth delivers all
types of facilities including healthcare, industrial, office and retail
Cook Group, Inc.
The world's largest privately held medical device manufacturer with
international headquarters in Bloomington, Ind., COOK® (www.cookgroup.com)
is a leading designer, manufacturer and global distributor of minimally
invasive medical device technology for diagnostic and therapeutic procedures.
Cook Group also owns and operates real estate, retail management and travel
services businesses. Through its real estate development and management
company, CFC, Inc., the Cook Group family of companies has placed a special
emphasis on preserving architecturally significant buildings in Bloomington
and south central Indiana.
Majestic Star Casino
The Majestic Star Casino, LLC ("Majestic"), a multi-jurisdictional
gaming company, will manage the casino at the French Lick Springs Resort.
Majestic owns and operates a riverboat gaming facility in Gary, Ind. (Majestic
Star), a Fitzgeralds-brand casino and hotel in Tunica County, Mississippi
(Fitzgeralds Tunica) and a Fitzgeralds-brand casino in Black Hawk, Colo.
(Fitzgeralds Black Hawk). Majestic also manages for Barden Development,
Inc. a casino and hotel in downtown Las Vegas ("Fitzgeralds Las Vegas").
As of Dec. 31, 2004, the casinos that Majestic owns and manages collectively
contained approximately 4,496 slot machines, 119 table games and 1,145
Benchmark Hospitality International
Benchmark Hospitality International ("Benchmark"), an independent hospitality
management company based in The Woodlands (Houston), Tex., operates resorts,
conference centers and hotels, both domestically and internationally. Benchmark
will manage the French Lick Springs Resort. Benchmark has more than 25
years of experience and operates 17 facilities in 12 states. Their properties
include Turtle Bay Resort in Hawaii, Scottsdale Resort and Conference Center
in Arizona, The Chattanoogan in Tennessee, Cheyenne Mountain Resort in
Colorado, Del Lago Resort in Houston, Lansdowne Resort in Washington, D.C.
and the Founders Inn in Virginia Beach.