Amid speculation afloat regarding plans by the Prairie Island Indian Community to open a new casino on land purchased from the West Lakeland Township, the tribe broke ground Tuesday on a $68 million expansion of its Treasure Island Resort and Casino.

Approximately 184,000 square feet will be added to the casino located just north of Red Wing in Minnesota. The additional space will be used to house two new hotel towers, which will connect to the existing Eagle Tower. Sixty suites, which will be located on the new tower’s top floors and 240 standard rooms will be added, bringing the resort destination’s total room count to 800.

In February, the tribe added the 40,000-square-foot Lagoon Water Park and Wave Spa and the consistently high booking rate associated  with the addition necessitated the need for more hotel space, according to Cindy Taube, a spokeswoman for Treasure Island. Taube said, “The water park was something new and different for us,” and, “It has been beyond our expectations as far as popularity,” according to the Rochester Post-Bulletin. The current expansion will increase the size of the $19 million new water park by another 3,200 square feet, and along with other amenities will add more pool space and changing areas.

In addition to the new towers, which will give the lobby an overhaul and add a new front desk, self-check-in stations, and a larger concierge area, the expansion also includes renovation of the Buffalo Tower to mirror the new towers, and the addition of a new restaurant. The restaurant will include outdoor seating and will be located above the Island Xtreme Bowling Center, enabling easy access by guests from each of the hotel towers, according to the news outlet. Taube said that the expansion, which will start with the addition of the new restaurant and Water Park, followed by the new hotel towers, should be completed in 2018.

An 112-acre parcel of land in West Lakeland Township, approximately 30 miles from Treasure Island, was purchased by the tribe recently and there has been speculation that the tribe may be looking at the site for a possible casino. Federal trust status for the land located near Lake Elmo along Interstate 94 is being sought by the tribe. However, President Shelley Buck told The Minneapolis Star Tribune that the tribe has no plan to use the site for gaming and that most likely it will be used for other types of businesses and for housing. Buck told the news outlet that the automatic assumption by people that a casino is the only possible use for the land by a tribe, and its sole business, is offensive.

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