KBIC updates details of casino expansion in MI Upper Peninsula

Construction on the $33.5 million expansion at the Marquette Ojibwa II Casino located in Chocolay Township on M-28 in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula (U.P.) is expected to begin on July 24, according to local newspaper, The Mining Journal.

Renovations to the Keweenaw Bay Indian Community (KBIC) of the Lake Superior Band of Chippewa Indians’ two gaming facilities located in Harvey (Marquette County) and in Baraga totaling more than $40 million were announced in November last year. KBIC officials along with project partners provided an update on the expansion at the Harvey casino during a recent town hall there.

The timetable for the Chocolay Township casino project, which includes a three-story 76-room hotel with a pool and spa, a restaurant capable of seating between 75 and 100 people, a quick eats grill, and a 1,200-seat events center, calls for the casino section of the Harvey project to debut on September 1, 2018. Further details regarding the restaurant ae expected to be announced in several weeks, according to The Mining Journal.

The newspaper reports that hotel opening will follow on September 15, with the entire project expected to be completed by December 31, 2018.

General Manager of the KBIC casinos, Don Wren, told The Mining Journal that it’s important to them to be able to transform the small gaming hall into something the wonderful for them as well as the community. Wren said the current casino area will become a 400-seat convention center that should bring in visitors from outside the U.P. He told the news agency that the convention space is important because it will attract people who don’t live in the U.P. and can experience the area from a business standpoint.

Along with the other various additions and improvements, the new casino section will improve on its current 289 slot machines and will house about 500, according to Wren, who said there will also be table games. He said, “They’ll be able to stay at the property, have a gaming experience, have a hotel experience and then come into Marquette and to be part of that whole wonderful scene that’s going on, especially in the downtown area.”

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Wren also addressed potential traffic issues which could arise if an entertainment headliner was booked at the casino. He acknowledged traffic would increase and that they would “work with the local police departments to ensure that we have people out there to help direct traffic, and that, in addition to the turning lanes we’re putting in, I think we’ll be pretty good from a traffic standpoint.”

Earlier reports indicate that along with the long-anticipated upgrades, the casino’s expansion brings with it the possibility of adding more than 50 workers to the casino; another advantage to the area.

In late May, it was reported that the casino located on Michigan Avenue in Baraga was running about a month behind schedule, and is now expected to be completed in March 2018. Located near the intersection of US-41 and M-38, the Baraga facility is receiving more than 7BALL $5 million in infrastructure updates including new heating and cooling units and new active smoke eaters.