November 26, 2014

“Hard Rock Casino” proposed for Sioux City

One of the applications for a new, state-licensed casino will come from a group that hopes to build a “Hard Rock Casino” on the west end of downtown Sioux City.

State regulators opened up the application process earlier this year for a new casino in Sioux City to replace the casino that sits along the Missouri River. Bill Warner is president of the newly-minted Sioux City Entertainment, a subsidiary of the company that owns the Hard Rock Casino in Las Vegas.

“The investment in the project is contemplated to be over $100 million,” Warner says. “The total footprint of the facility is 100,000 square feet (with) three restaurants. One of the restaurants would be a live entertainment venue.”

The project calls for renovating an existing building in Sioux City — the historic Battery Building — and place a 20-foot high electric guitar on top of that six-story structure. Sioux City Mayor Bob Scott was on hand for yesterday’s announcement.

“It was one of our goals to place a casino facility in downtown Sioux City that would have a lasting impact on the downtown area,” he said, “and this proposal will do a lot…to changing the character and dynamics of downtown Sioux City.”

But neither the mayor nor the city council has endorsed the “Hard Rock Casino” project.

“We have, though, spent many hours with this group and with the Ho-Chunk. We continue to work with them,” Scott said.

Ho-Chunk is the name of the corporation formed by the Winnebago tribe of Nebraska which has indicated it may apply for the Sioux City casino license as well.

Sioux City Entertainment plans to submit its state license application with the Missouri River Historical Development board, the non-profit group that holds the license for the current Sioux City casino operated by Penn National Gaming. Penn and the non-profit Missouri River Historical Development group have been in a long-running dispute over management of the current “Argosy” casino in Sioux City.

State law calls for a casino license to be held by a non-profit group and the non-profit partners with a for-profit corporation to run the casino. Sioux City Entertainment — the Hard Rock subsidiary — expects to employ 500 at its proposed Sioux City casino. November 1st is the deadline for submitting applications for a new Sioux City casino.

Reporting by Woody Gottburg, KSCJ, Sioux City