|By Jarrel Wade, Tulsa World,
Okla.McClatchy-Tribune Regional News
March 18, 2013-- Muscogee (Creek) Nation gaming officials are expanding their River Spirit Casino and entering a partnership with Margaritaville to open a 22-story hotel along the Arkansas River.
The 500-room hotel tower will finish in early 2015 and will accompany a new casino, restaurant, pool-bar area, theater and more -- all bearing Jimmy Buffett's Margaritaville brand, according to Muscogee (Creek) Nation Casinos officials.
"We wanted something that would really sizzle," said Pat Crofts, casino chief executive officer. "Simply building onto the casino is just cutting the pie more."
The announcement came weeks after River Parks trail officials announced Creek Nation officials would be moving the portion of trail that runs along Riverside Drive from in front of the casino, 8330 Riverside Parkway, to run along the Arkansas River to the west of it.
River Parks Executive Director Matt Meyer said the reroute of the trail -- at the tribe's expense -- is an appreciated improvement to the trail system that runs along the Arkansas River from 11th Street to 101st Street.
"It's all good," Meyer said. "We've been talking with the Creeks for several years about rerouting the trail."
The reroute will avoid traffic in the area caused in large part by the casino. Officials including Meyer said the trail's proximity to traffic was a safety concern.
"We just feel it will be safer for everyone," he said.
The new trail will at least meet the same design as the rest of the trail, but the designers will have room to improve on it if they want, Meyer said.
The $250 million total expansion is projected to add 800 new jobs and 1,800 construction jobs through 2014, according to a Creek Nation press release.
The combined, annual economic impact is projected to be about $135 million with an annual payroll of about $38 million, according a report prepared by the Tulsa Regional Chamber.
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