Topeka A partnership involving Kansas Speedway won a contract Friday to build and manage a state-owned resort casino that will overlook the track.
The Lottery Gaming Facility Review Board picked Kansas Entertainment, formed by the speedway and The Cordish Co., of Baltimore, over two competitors to build a casino in the Kansas City area. The decision ties a high-profile attraction in the state's biggest tourist-drawing area to what officials believe will be Kansas' most lucrative casino.
The proposal calls for a $680 million Hard Rock Hotel and Casino with 3,000 slot machines, a 300-room hotel and convention center and retail outlets. It would overlook the No. 2 turn of the 1 1/2 mile D-shaped track.
"I think the opportunity to build a casino at Turn 2 of Kansas Speedway is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity," review board Chairman Matt All said. "I think it would be an iconic symbol in Kansas."
Wyandotte County is one of four places where a state-owned casino is allowed under a law enacted last year. The state will own and regulate the casinos and receive at least 22 percent of the revenues. Private companies will manage the day-to-day operations.
Last month, the speedway said that if it received the Wyandotte County contract, it would seek a second NASCAR Sprint Cup race. It promised to build a road course in its infield and have a Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car race there by 2011. It also said it would bring in thousands of recreational vehicle users each year for a rally generating millions in revenue.
The promised projects aren't part of the 15-year contract the speedway signed with the Kansas Lottery, which owns the gambling. But Jeff Boerger, speedway president, said they all will happen.
"Yes, we will deliver. We have our reputations to maintain," Boerger said after the vote.
Final approval will come from the Kansas Racing and Gaming Commission, which will regulate the casinos, after a background check that's expected to take a couple of months.
Meanwhile, the current economic crisis caused the seven-member board to postpone a decision until Sept. 26 on picking either Butler National Service Corp., or Dodge City Resort and Gaming for the Ford County casino. Both applicants say they have financing lined up, but board members wanted more evidence.
"If this was three or four months ago, 'Trust me, I'm rich' might have worked," said board member Jim Bergfalk, of Mission.