In Washington, the Nisqually Indian Tribe is reportedly considering the possibility of opening a second casino near the small city of Lacey featuring a convention center, hotel and concert venue.
According to a report from The Olympian newspaper, the federally-recognized tribe is looking into the viability of building the scheme in partnership with Bellevue-based commercial real estate firm Wig Properties on a 200-acre site that was once home to a Cabela’s outdoor recreation merchandise franchise in the northeast of the Thurston County community and alongside Interstate 5.
“We are still in a review process,” John Simmons, Chief Executive Officer for the Nisqually Indian Tribe, told the newspaper.
The Nisqually Indian Tribe already operates the Nisqually Red Wind Casino on its reservation some eleven miles from the site being considered for the new casino while The Olympian reported that the proposal could jeopardize a plan from the Thurston County Board of Commissioners to build a publicly-funded convention center for the area.
“We see the benefit of bringing thousands of people to the area,” the mayor for Lacey, Andy Ryder, told the newspaper when asked about the proposal from the Nisqually Indian Tribe as such a facility could draw customers from as far away as Seattle and Portland. “We’re waiting to hear the entire proposal.”
The Thurston County officials want approval to place a measure on the November ballot asking for permission to create a local “convention district” and establish a body that would subsequently submit a comprehensive plan for the development including its finances to the state. They may then fund the construction of the scheme by levying a property tax of as much as 25 cents per $1,000 of assessed valuation although individual cities could elect to opt out the plan.
“I can’t support something that would compete with a private-sector facility,” Ryder reportedly told Thurston County Commissioner John Hutchings along with Ramiro Chavez, Manager for Thurston County, during a Lacey City Council work session last week.
The proposal from the Thurston County Board of Commissioners could moreover be in jeopardy due to concerns that any such facility would not be profitable and could see local residents lumbered with higher tax rates for decades to come.
“The vast majority [of convention centers] don’t even break even, let alone turn a profit,” Thurston County Commissioner Lenny Greenstein reportedly told his compatriots. “The burden is on the taxpayer. What makes you think this is the time and location for a convention center that can pay for itself?”