Thunder Valley to get Vegas facelift

Jun 19, 2007 3:45 AM

Thunder Valley Casino, operated by Station Casinos and owned by the United Auburn Indian Community, revealed plans last week to build a hotel bigger than anything existing in the Sacramento region — a 650-room resort.

Expansion would also include a 3,000-seat performing arts theater next to the hotel at Thunder Valley Casino near Lincoln, California.

The casino owners have promised to bring a "taste of Las Vegas" to Sacramento by bringing in big-name acts and large conventions to the new 23-story hotel, theater and ballrooms.

In an interview with the Sacramento Bee, General Manager Scott Garawitz said the ambitious plans have always included a hotel and more amenities.

"Virtually from the day we opened, people asked, ”˜Where’s the hotel?’ " Garawitz said. "And the other question was, ”˜Where is the entertainment?’ Well, here it is."

Approvals for the project could take a year. Construction will take two more years.

The expansion would include:

”¡ A four- or five-star hotel on the order of Four Seasons.

”¡ A spa, pool and arcade.

”¡ More slot machines and a new poker room.

”¡ Two ballrooms totaling 30,000 square feet that can accommodate 2,000 occupants.

”¡ A performing arts center versatile enough to handle trade shows, concerts and theater.

”¡ A nine-floor garage with enough spaces for 5,000 vehicles.

”¡ Three new restaurants.

The new amenities will enable Thunder Valley to compete with other gambling houses. Located near Interstate 80, Thunder Valley is on the way to Reno and Lake Tahoe resorts.

 The sprawling casino also competes with other Indian facilities — the planned casino in the El Dorado County community of Shingle Springs and Cache Creek Casino Resort in Yolo County’s Capay Valley.

Cache Creek, which already has 200 hotel rooms, earlier this month announced its own expansion, including 467 additional hotel rooms, 27 "hillside casitas," two formal restaurants, more gaming and a large event-conference center.

Thunder Valley Casino opened in June 2003, situated among the brown hills in developing Placer County, 25 miles from Sacramento.

Among the new restaurants will be an oyster bar with a large aquarium and chandeliers to resemble blocks of ice.

The casino has a little over 2,700 slot machines, and a compact signed by tribes in 2004 with Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger allows for more. It has not been determined how many would be added.