By John Hernandez
Representatives from the San Carlos Apache Tribal Council and gaming enterprises shared some of the plans for their new casino to be built off Highway 77 between Mammoth and Dudleyville at a public meeting Thursday evening in Mammoth. The proposed casino will sit one half-mile off the highway near mile marker 127.
Gary Murrey, general manager for the San Carlos Apache Tribes gaming enterprises said that the Tribe will try to hire local for the construction and development of the phase I plan.
Phase I construction is expected to be completed by Jun. 2014, with temporary modular buildings that will hold a casino with 400 slot machines, 12 gaming tables and six poker tables. There will be a small restaurant and lounge.
Cost of the project is estimated between $25 million to $30 million. Murrey said that it should spark additional economic development in the area, adding that the addition of 400 jobs to the area would bring in more businesses and maybe a large grocery store.
Phase II of the project is expected to be three to five years down the road. The size and scope of the project will be determined by the success of the temporary Phase I facilities. It could include a casino with 600 to 800 slot machines plus gaming tables, convention center, entertainment complex and hotel facilities similar in size to Casino del Sol, Murrey said.
Residents of the north side of Tucson are expected to be a large customer base. Shuttle buses or vans could be used to transport people from the area to and from the casino.
Many questions were asked by attendees at the Mammoth meeting concerning the increase in traffic, crime, infrastructure, San Carlos Irrigation Project (SCIP) and impact on the environment. Tribal Chairman Terry Rambler said he believed that the three main challenges for the project were infrastructure, rights of way and communication with the public.
There will be more public meetings in the area and Tribe representatives are looking for input and interest from the public.