Station set sights on Reno

December 18, 2007 6:06 AM
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Station Casinos, which dominates the Southern Nevada "locals" casino market, will soon take its show on the road to Reno in Northern Nevada.

One Station property is planned near the Atlantis Casino Resort Spa and the Reno-Sparks Convention Center. The other is set for an 88-acre site near Mount Rose Highway and The Summit mall.

Station, which operates about 17 resort casinos, intends to apply its tried-and-true formula — affordable food and entertainment coupled with popular gaming such as video poker and keno machines — to upscale casinos in the Reno area.

The plan for the Station property near the Atlantis and the convention center involves an 8-acre site with up to 500 hotel rooms, multiple restaurants, a high-tech sports book, plus multiple restaurants and gaming offerings.

The one near Mount Rose Highway and the Summit mall will open with 300 hotel rooms with plans to expand to 600. It will offer 500,000 square feet of casino, restaurant and entertainment areas and will be next to a proposed 140,000 to 150,000 square-foot Bass Pro Shop Destination Store.

The new resorts are expected to follow the design and amenity menus at Station’s latest offerings, Red Rock Casino Resort and Green Valley Ranch, according to Station executives.

Although no timetable for the new resorts has been set, they are expected to appear on Station’s "front burner" after Aliante in North Las Vegas is completed late next year, according to Scott Nielson, Station executive vice president and chief development officer.

Leading up to Aliante’s opening, Station executives will decide if they will build in Reno or expand in the Las Vegas area.

"What we have currently is a number of opportunities here in Southern Nevada, and we also have opportunities at two locations in Reno," Nielson told the Reno Gazette-Journal. "We are moving forward with planning on all of them. At some point, we are going to make a decision as to pulling the trigger on one of those. But we really haven’t determined that yet."

Nielson said that Station eventually will break ground in Reno. The company recently went private after being publicly traded on the New York Stock Exchange since 1993.

Station will expand to Reno because its major partner in its buyout — Colony Capitol LLC, a private real estate investment firm — is very bullish on the Reno market, Nielson said.

"Reno is one of the projects they (Colony Capitol) considered when they looked at us and said ”˜Yes, we want to be a partner,’" Nielson said. "Someday we will come to Reno. We continue to work on the properties."

Nielsen added that Station hopes to "raise the bar" in Reno.

"In terms of raising the bar, what we are accustomed to doing is building high-quality facilities," Nielson said. "What we will try to do is build a larger hotel room, with full amenities in terms of the latest electronics, Wi-Fi and that sort of thing.

 "Then, we will bring in the latest and best in terms of signature chefs, entertainment and gaming," Nielson said.

 Reno has not seen a new gaming property built from the ground up since the Silver Legacy opened downtown in 1995.

 The lack of new properties makes Reno ripe for expansion, Nielson said.

"We looked at Reno and said, ”˜You’ve got good demographics, good average household income, not an overwhelming number of slot machines per persons who live there and you also have not had any new product for awhile,’" Nielson said. "So, we believe that if we built the right product, we can attract a combination of both tourist and locals. So, we think we can do very well there."