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Archive for Wednesday, April 28, 2004

Tribes closer to KCK casino

Sac and Fox Nation, Kickapoo to buy land near Speedway

April 28, 2004

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A pair of Kansas Indian tribes said Tuesday they were finalizing a deal to purchase 80 acres near the Kansas Speedway as part of their plans to open a casino.

Members of the Kickapoo Tribe and the Sac and Fox Nation said they would exercise their options on the land, which is west of the Kansas Speedway in western Wyandotte County.

Emily Conklin, vice chair of the Horton-based Kickapoo Tribe, said the tribes expected to complete the deal by mid-May and then immediately submit the necessary paperwork to federal officials for construction of a 250-room destination resort hotel and casino.

State officials and the tribes also would need to reach agreement on a gaming compact before the casino could open. Conklin said negotiations with the state had been going well.

"We feel like the outlook is great," she said. "I feel like we're not very far off on an agreement. Once the legislative session is out, I think we'll get it done in fairly short order."

Matt All, chief counsel for Gov. Kathleen Sebelius, said an agreement could be finalized this summer.

"It is clear that we have made substantial progress in the negotiations," All said. "It is realistic that we can reach an agreement, but we haven't yet."

One issue that was being negotiated, Conklin said, was the future of the tribes' two existing casinos north of Topeka.

The Kickapoo operate the Golden Eagle Casino and the Sac and Fox operate a casino bearing the tribe's name. There had been discussion that the tribes would close one or both of those facilities in exchange for permission to operate a casino in the more lucrative Kansas City market.

Conklin said the tribes wanted to keep both casinos open because they were an important component in obtaining financing for the $210 million Kansas City project.

The project, which would create about 1,300 full-time jobs, would have a 1,500-seat theater and 80,000 square feet of gambling space. The tribes estimate the casino would generate from $40 million to $60 million annually in revenue for the state.

State officials conducted a feasibility study that found the Kansas City area could support another casino.

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