TULALIP — The Tulalip Tribes revealed the look and design of its newest $140 million casino and hotel on Tuesday and celebrated the start of construction with a blessing, prayers and salmon.
The project will replace the existing Quil Ceda Creek Casino, the bursting-at-the-seams casino at 6410 33rd Ave NE, Tulalip.
“What an honor it is to take a part in this journey for the tribes,” said Teri Gobin, vice chairwoman for the tribes. “It’s so exciting we’re finally doing this groundbreaking and knowing what it will mean for the tribes and community, bringing jobs and helping with economic development.”
Quil Ceda Creek Casino — also known as the Q — is the smaller of the tribes’ two casinos on Tulalip land. Together the casinos now employ 2,400 people directly.
The new casino will be built on 16 acres directly south of the existing Quil Ceda Creek. It is expected to open in spring 2019. The tribes in the past couple of months decided to add a 150-room hotel to the project. The new casino will be called Quil Ceda Creek Casino Hotel.
“We’re working on the designs of the hotel rooms as we speak today,” said Ken Kettler, president and chief operating officer at Tulalip Resort Casino.
The 110,000-square-foot casino will have 1,500 slot machines — up from 1,000. It also will include more table games and a 1,200-stall parking garage and additional parking areas to accommodate 700 more vehicles.
The new casino also will include a state-of-the-art smoke elimination system, said Teresa Jira, executive vice president at Quil Ceda Creek Casino.
“That’s our No. 1 complaint at our existing property,” Jira said. “So we’re definitely taking care of that.”
The casino will include new dining and bar options including specialty coffee and desert shops. The hotel will feature a VIP-business lounge, meeting rooms, a catering kitchen and a spa and a pool.
More than 250 people gathered in a heated tent Tuesday at the site of the new casino where the old Arby’s and the Tulalip courts and police departments were located. Tulalip drummers started the celebration. Then Natosha Gobin gave prayers in both Lushootseed and English.
“Creator, we thank you for this day, we thank you for this beautiful gathering,” she said. “We thank you for the good work of our elders and our past leaders who did hard work with good hearts and minds to help us get to where we are today.”
Tulalip Tribes board member Les Parks recounted how the tribes started a bingo hall in 1983 where the Quil Ceda Creek Casino now stands. Ten years later, in 1993, the tribes made half of the bingo hall into a casino. And then a decade after that, the tribes built Tulalip Resort Casino. Now, they’re replacing Quil Creek Creek Casino, he said.
“We’re doing that because that little building is bursting at the seams,” Parks said. “The revenue cannot grow any more there, they’re using every square foot they can. … Our customers are screaming for more machines and they’re screaming for a hotel to stay.”
Quil Ceda Creek Casino is a “local’s joint” where the staff knows the customers’ names and are familiar with their lives, Kettler said. They aim to keep that feel at the new casino. But he said the Q needed to be replaced.
“We reconfigured the floor, every nook and cranny, trying to make that work,” Kettler said. “About four years ago, we did a facelift and brightened it up. But really the capacity and the demand for the business and the experience is there and that led us to the decision to expand.”
Kettler, who has worked at Tulalip Resort Casino for 12 years, credited the work of Tulalip leadership for what has been accomplished.
“All the visions and discussions we’ve had in the past, I remember Stan Jones telling us, ‘Stay the course,’ ” Kettler said.
“Stay the course,” Jones popped up from a seat and shouted from the crowd.
“And we did, that’s right,” Kettler said. “Leadership like that helped us get to today’s ceremony.”
Jim Davis: 425-339-3097; firstname.lastname@example.org; @HBJnews.