One of Ho-Chunk's casino proposals would utilize the 1929 Warrior hotel Building.
SIOUX CITY, Iowa (KTIV) -
The battle for the right to build a casino in downtown Sioux City is heating up. There are now two groups with proposals ready to be pitched to the Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission.
Earlier this week, Missouri River Historical Development, the non-profit license holder for the Argosy Casino announced they want to partner with a Las Vegas firm to build a Hard Rock Casino at the Battery Building.
On Friday, Ho-Chunk Inc., the economic development corporation owned by the Winnebago Tribe, revealed its plans for a downtown casino.
A casino project they say would keep more money in Siouxland.
Built in the 1920's, the Warrior Hotel has been saved from the wrecking ball a few times. But Ho Chunk Inc. believes it could be transformed into the Warrior Casino and Hotel.
It's one of two proposals the group plans to pitch to Iowa gaming regulators this month.
Lance Morgan Ho-Chunk CEO and President said, "It would be 100,000 square feet total and when you add the hotel it's going to be significant."
The Warrior Casino and Hotel project would incorporate the Davidson building next door and require much of the block.
Ho-Chunk says it would restore the art-deco detail of the iconic hotel, as well as add modern technology.
"One is really an ode to Sioux City's past the other one is a real contemporary vision," said Morgan.
The second option is the Pearl Casino to be built near Pearl Street and the Tyson Events Center. It would be closer to Interstate-29. Morgan says they've drafted two different proposals to hopefully improve their chances.
To make it happen, Ho-Chunk Inc. and the Winnebago Gaming Development Corporation have formed Ho-Chunk Development L.L.C. and plan to partner with local business investors.
After initially expressing interest in partnering with MRHD as its non-profit, Morgan says they decided to create their own qualified sponsoring organization or QSO, comprised of business and community leaders. Their vision is to use gambling revenue to build up and re-invest in the community.
Morgan said, "If you look at some of these other communities elsewhere in the state of Iowa they use large amounts of money to make large bold decisions. And we think they're going to try to position our non-profit to be economic development oriented. And to do big projects that matter."
And by keeping the gaming developer local, Morgan says it'll keep millions of dollars from going out of town. He says $10 million in profits leave the city every year.
"There's no way that's a positive and you don't have to be a great economist to know that. So we think that both our local plans, along with the local investor pool that we're going to do is going to be by far the most logical thing for Siouxland long term," said Morgan.
He says Ho-Chunk was started with $9 million in gaming revenue from the Winnebago Tribe in 1994. He says that money has been reinvested and today the company has grown to a projected $250 million in revenue for 2012.
"We are all about economic development. We used the original seed money from the Tribe and created a new economy and new opportunity on the reservation. With the help of other Siouxland investors, we see the same possibilities here for gaming revenue from our land-based casino to be re-invested in Siouxland to grow economic opportunity and jobs for local residents. With any other option, the majority of the gaming revenue winds up in Pennsylvania or Las Vegas, far away from Sioux City," Morgan said.
Ho-Chunk's application needs to be to the Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission by November first.
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