NCAA zaps late donor’s ‘Fighting Sioux’ vision

Aug 16, 2005 6:47 AM

A recent decision by the NCAA will probably have the late Ralph Engelstad, owner of the Imperial Palace on the Las Vegas Strip and the biggest benefactor of his alma mater, the University of North Dakota, turning over in his grave come next March.

At that time, North Dakota U. will be hosting the NCAA West Region men’s hockey playoff tournament in the Ralph Engelstad Arena, a facility that has thousands of Indian head logos supporting the team’s nickname, the Fighting Sioux.

And, each one of these logos will have to be covered during the tournament by order of the NCAA.

The NCAA edict banned all references to American Indian nicknames from postseason sports tournaments. The ruling has created a major ruckus among many schools throughout the country.

Engelstad, who played goalie for the hockey team during his college years, was a fierce supporter of the Fighting Sioux nickname, insisting he would withdraw his multi-millions of contributions to the school if the nickname were dropped.

Efforts by Indian supporters to eliminate the Fighting Sioux nickname failed, much to Engelstad’s delight.

Caesars grows

Harrah’s Entertainment Inc. (HET) added 949 rooms to its Las Vegas inventory on Monday with the early morning opening of the newly constructed Augustus hotel tower at Caesars Palace.

Construction of the $289 million tower at the intersection of Flamingo Road and Las Vegas Boulevard began two years ago and boosts the number of rooms at the grand old property by 40%. The company said the new property will add about 600 people to its payroll.

Company officials said the new tower will be aimed at competing with some of the Strip’s newest properties. All the rooms are suites ranging in size from 650 square feet to 2,470 square feet.

New racinos

Support at the polls in 2004 for the authorization of slot machines at racetracks will result in racinos being established in both Oklahoma and Maine.

Gaming licenses for slot facilities at Remington Park in Oklahoma City and Blue Ribbon Downs in Sallisaw, Okla., were approved last week.

Blue Ribbon Downs, operated by the Choctaw Nation, is expected to be in operation relatively soon since the tribe already has spent $2 million to convert the off-track betting facility into an area that will accommodate an initial installation of 180 machines. The gaming devices will be transferred from one of the tribe’s existing casinos.

Magna International Corporation (MECA), owner of Remington Park, said it will spend $32 million to renovate the track for the maximum number of machines, 650, permitted by the license. It expects to be operating in November.

As for Maine, Penn National Gaming Inc. (PENN) said it is working six days a week to renovate a recently acquired Bangor restaurant to act as a temporary facility for the slot machines. It also plans a November opening.

THE INSIDER: Foxwoods Resort Casino has bowed, temporarily, to Connecticut officials and has postponed the Internet game it had planned to inaugurate on Monday.

Citing an incomplete auditing process, Alliance Gaming Inc. (AGI) postponed the scheduled release of its fiscal information for the fourth quarter and the full year. The numbers are expected to be released on Aug. 26.

SC Sonoma Development LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Station Casinos Inc. (STN) has purchased 271 acres near the city of Rohnert Park in Sonoma County, Cal., where it intends to build a casino in partnership with the Federated Indians of the Graton Rancheria Tribe.

The top three executives of WMS Industries Inc. have agreed to forego bonus payments for the current year. Advising the SEC of their decisions were: Brian Gamache, president and CEO; Orrin J. Edidin, COO, and Scott Schweinfurth, CFO.

Nevada casinos won a record $11 billion from gamblers during the last fiscal year. This was an 8.8% increase over the previous year.