Taking Mom to a casino doesn't sound like the traditional way to
celebrate Mother's Day in Oklahoma. But the $100 million Cherokee
Casino Resort served more than 4,000 such guests Sunday, making
Mother's Day another highlight in its remarkable history.
It was like a small city in here, said David Stewart, chief
executive of Cherokee Nation Enterprises.
That business arm of the Cherokee Nation has enjoyed strong
growth since its sprawling Catoosa resort doubled in size in 2004 -
in a market its leaders feel offers wide room for growth.
We definitely have not reached our saturation point, said
Stewart. Actually, when you build new facilities, you create new
Cherokee Nation Enterprises is preparing four major expansions
that will help the firm improve its services as it expands into new
markets. Stewart expects these projects to help Cherokee Nation
bring more tourists into Oklahoma while keeping more gambling
dollars in the state.
We're in our second tier of expansion, he said. Everything here
is state of the art. It's the best of the best. And now we need to
leverage it better.
In 90 days, the company will break ground on a $60-million-plus
expansion of its West Siloam Springs casino, increasing its gaming
space from 20,000 to 60,000 square feet.
Stewart noted the project would also add several amenities still
being determined that could raise the total construction cost to $80
million. He expects the two-year project to increase the casino's
employment to 700 from 400.
Workers also should break ground this year on a 14-story addition
to the south end of the Cherokee Casino Resort, adding 200 hotel
rooms and up to 20,000 square feet of convention space to the
centerpiece operation for completion in 2008.
A tribal cultural center and parking garage also stand in the
As Cherokee Nation Enterprises continues to work out the
expansion's full dimensions, with construction costs remaining
volatile, Stewart placed the resort project cost range from $60
million to $80 million. He expects its staff of 800 could grow 25
In a $20 million addition to its Roland casino, Cherokee Nation
Enterprises has already started construction on a 12,000-square-
foot truck stop and convenience store. About 20,000 square feet of
gaming space will be added to the 25,000-square-foot complex.
The Cherokee Nation Enterprises also has acquired two hotels, one
in Roland and one alongside the resort at Catoosa. Acquisition costs
were not disclosed. …