|By Edward Sifuentes, North County Times,
Escondido, Calif.McClatchy-Tribune Regional News
May 25, 2012--One of the largest casino and entertainment venues in San Diego County is about to get a whole lot bigger.
The Rincon Band of Mission Indians in Valley Center said last week in a report to federal regulators that it plans to expand its Harrah's Rincon Resort & Casino. The expansion will include a 21-story hotel tower, more gambling space, a concert room and a nightclub.
If completed, the casino expansion will nearly double the size of the casino and hotel, according to the tribe's environmental report on the project. The report was released to the public last week.
A public meeting on the project will be held at 6 p.m. Wednesday at the Rincon tribal hall.
Rincon leaders declined to comment Wednesday through a spokeswoman.
Through the proposed expansion, the tribe hopes to "strengthen the tribal government; fund a variety of social, governmental, administrative, educational, health and welfare services to improve the quality of life of tribal members and to provide other economic development and investment opportunities," according to the tribe's report.
Charles Matthews, chairman of the Pala-Pauma Valley Community Sponsor Group, a panel that advises county supervisors on planning matters in Pala and Pauma Valley, said the environmental report on the project appeared to be comprehensive and well documented. But he added that he had not had time to thoroughly read the document and comment in depth about the proposed project and its effects on the surrounding communities.
"The environmental evaluation, which the tribe has produced, is a very complete and honest document that addresses the issues of the impacts on the environment off the reservation in a very open and straightforward way," Matthews said. "And for that the tribe is to be complimented."
Officials with the tribe will formally present the project to the Pala-Pauma group at its June 5 meeting, Matthews said.
Last year, Rincon won a lawsuit against the state that will allow it to increase the number of slot machines in its casino.
The tribe also announced late last year that it struck an agreement with the county that could provide millions of dollars to North County communities for roads, public safety and other projects.
"This money that we're talking about ... is several million dollars, every year, coming in," Rincon Chairman Bo Mazzetti said last year.
The exact amount of money the county receives will depend on ongoing negotiations with the state, tribal officials said.
Officials with the tribe did not say in the environmental report how many slot machines would be added to its gambling floor under the proposed expansion.
One of the largest aspects of the expansion is construction of a new hotel tower, which would nearly double the number of rooms in the existing hotel.
The hotel has a 21-story tower with 662 rooms. The new tower, which would mirror the existing structure, would add 402 rooms, including 38 suites.
Under the proposed expansion, the casino would increase from about 45,000 square feet to more than 90,000 square feet, including an additional 15,000 square feet of gambling space, according to the tribe's report.
The expansion also includes a 23,000 square-foot "multipurpose room," which could host 10 to 12 concerts a year, according to the report.
Other amenities are a 10,000-square-foot nightclub, a steakhouse, a specialty restaurant, a poker room and a larger pool area.
Overall, the expansion would add 571 restaurant and bar seats for a total of 1,847, according to the report.
A copy of the environmental report is available at www.rinconcasinoee.com, or at the Rincon tribal hall, 1 West Tribal Road, in Valley Center.
Written comments on the environmental evaluation can be sent through June 15 to Analytical Environment Services, c/o Ryan Lee, 1801 Seventh St., Suite 100, Sacramento, CA 92082.
(c)2012 the North County Times (Escondido, Calif.)
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