|By Keith Benman, The Times, Munster,
Ind.McClatchy-Tribune Regional News
Jun. 2, 2010--Ameristar Casino East Chicago plans a $4.2 million upgrade of all rooms in its luxury hotel, the first refurbishment of the hotel since it was built in 2001.
The project will begin next month and will include new carpeting, wall coverings, lighting, 42-inch high-definition televisions, and luxury bedding.
"The newly renovated rooms will enhance the overall comfort of our guests and will add to our reputation as one of the premier hotel facilities in Northwest Indiana," said Pete Savage, general vice president and general manager of Ameristar East Chicago.
The hotel was built at a cost of $47 million by then-owner Harrah's Entertainment, which placed its bet on the hotel as a way of besting the competition from other nearby boats.
Today, the upgrade shows the casino remains committed to East Chicago and Northwest Indiana even during these tough economic times, said Ameristar Casinos Inc. CEO Gordon Kanofsky.
In April, Ameristar Casino had the largest year-over-year decline in revenue of any Northwest Indiana gaming boat, with its $19 million in revenue representing a 24.2 percent drop from last April's figure of $25.1 million, according to Indiana Gaming Commission figures.
In addition to the tough economy, the casino has been struggling with the closure of the Cline Avenue bridge, which served as a main gateway to the casino on the lake. The bridge was closed temporarily on Nov. 13 and then permanently in late December after bridge inspectors found the landmark structure to be gravely weakened.
Since the closure of the bridge, INDOT has erected multiple signs along Cline Avenue and other roadways to better direct motorists to Ameristar and other casinos. Ameristar has also undertaken an advertising campaign to let patrons know access to the boat is still quick and easy by designated detour.
Ameristar also plans to undertake an $800,000 project to improve air quality in the casino's pavilion area, following $1 million in such improvements made throughout the four levels of the casino.
"We believe our continuing investments in our property will help spur the local economy by attracting even more guests to Ameristar East Chicago," Kanofsky said.
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