|By Karen Florin, The Day, New London, Conn.|
Knight Ridder/Tribune Business News
Apr. 12, 2005 - MASHANTUCKET -- The Mashantucket Pequots are expected to announce Thursday that they are helping the Iowa Tribe of Kansas and Nebraska develop a $270 million casino in Park City, Kan.
Foxwoods Development Co. is in the final stages of negotiating management and development agreements with the Iowa Tribe, which wants to build a 260,000-square-foot casino with a hotel, convention center and entertainment venue. The Mashantuckets are expected to help them finance, development and manage the facility. Representatives of both tribes are scheduled to announce the agreements at a news conference Thursday.
Each of Kansas' four federally recognized tribes has a casino, but none are full-scale resorts like Foxwoods and Mohegan Sun. The Iowa tribe, with about 3,000 members, has a small casino at its reservation on the Kansas/Nebraska border.
"We're located in the middle of nowhere," said Tribal Chairman Leon Campbell. "We have 350 machines and a buffet and restaurants, but it's basically on a small scale."
The tribe wants to build a resort casino in Park City, a Wichita suburb about four hours away from the reservation, according to Campbell. The city has unanimously endorsed the casino, and the county is supportive, he said. The tribe still needs to negotiate a compact with the state. The U.S. Department of the Interior also needs to approve the project and agree to take into trust the casino site.
Campbell said a management company his tribe was using started conversations with Foxwoods Development Co. that spawned the anticipated management and development agreements.
"They have been very successful," he said of the Mashantuckets. "They actually want to share some of that knowledge and some of that success with other tribes, which I think is a terrific policy."
The Mashantuckets have explored diversifying into other gaming jurisdictions in the past but are now aggressively seeking to invest in opportunities throughout the United States. The tribe has a consulting agreement with the Picayune Rancheria of Chukchansi Indians, who own a casino in central California. They also have a formal agreement to develop a casino near Flagstaff, Ariz., for the San Juan Southern Paiute Tribe of Arizona. Specifics of the project were unavailable Monday.
Hoping to cash in on new slot machine legislation in Pennsylvania, the Mashantuckets have partnered with a businessman in that state to compete for a gaming license.
The Mashantuckets' sole casino competitor in Connecticut also is engaged in out-of-state gaming ventures. The Mohegan Tribe recently purchased the Pocono Downs racetrack in Wilkes-Barre, Pa., for $280 million in anticipation of opening a slots facility. The Mohegans have casino management and development contracts with tribes in Washington state and Wisconsin. Both are still awaiting regulatory approval.
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