Penn National buses Siouxland leaders to Kansas City - KTIV News 4 Sioux City IA: News, Weather and Sports

Penn National buses Siouxland leaders to Kansas City

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© "Others have tried to define us as something else. We wanted to give people a first hand experience of what a Hollywood Casino really is," said Karen Bailey, Penn's vice president of communications © "Others have tried to define us as something else. We wanted to give people a first hand experience of what a Hollywood Casino really is," said Karen Bailey, Penn's vice president of communications

The nation's second largest gaming company took a hand full of Siouxland leaders to Kansas City, Saturday.

The group loaded a bus, and drove more than four hours to tour two of Penn National Gaming's casinos. It's all part of the company's ongoing effort to drum up support for their two casino proposals in Woodbury County.

Penn owns the Argosy Riverboat Casino, but could replace it with either a $160 million Hollywood Casino off Gordon Drive in downtown Sioux City, or a $167 million Hollywood Casino near the Port Neal interchange off I-29 outside the city.

The first stop of the trip was a quick peek at another Argosy, in Riverside, Missouri. But Penn National's feature presentation was across the river, a tour of the less than 12 month old, $411 million, Hollywood Casino at Kansas Speedway.

"We wanted to give the experience of our Hollywood Casino. Others have tried to define us as something else. We wanted to give people a first hand experience of what a Hollywood Casino really is," said Karen Bailey, Penn's vice president of communications.

Penn boasts the 200,000 square foot facility sees 3.7 million guests a year, and has an annual economic impact of $220 million. KC officials, like the mayor, say the casino "exceeded expectations."

"Our sales in the development district around it, had their best year ever. It's something where when you have a quality product that speaks to people, they're not just going to one place, they're going to a lot," said Kansas City, Kansas Mayor Joe Reardon.

In Sioux City, Penn's two proposals face stiff competition from two other casino developers, Ho-Chunk Incorporated's Warrior Casino & Hotel, and Sioux City Entertainment's Hard Rock Casino & Hotel. So, after the company bused about 40 people to Kansas City, in hopes of capturing their support, what did Siouxlanders think?

Some we talked to say their opinion of Penn was made stronger.

"Tremendous facility, not only the amenities that are available, but what a professional organization," said Dr. Dave Sly, who sits on Penn's non-profit board, the Greater Siouxland Improvement Association.

"After seeing this, I'm even more convinced. They know what they are doing. I think they can build an excellent casino," said businessman Doug Potts.

Others are staying on the fence.

"I can't say that my mind will be made up for a while. I've got to look at the details again, the money that's going to be offered to Woodbury County especially," said Woodbury County Supervisor David Tripp.

Thursday, Penn, Ho-Chunk, and Sioux City Entertainment will present their proposals to the Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission. The IRGC will decide which of the four is built, by awarding a gaming license in April.

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