Kansas Speedway plans casino opening next year

Oct 14, 2008 5:06 PM

Industry Insider by Ray Poirier | If Kansas Lottery officials wanted to start banking revenue dollars just as quickly as possible, they appear to have made the right choice in locating a casino at the Kansas Speedway in Kansas City.

Although the building and operating contract wasn’t awarded until last week, Kansas Speedway officials are already planning on opening the gambling facility by next October when NASCAR’s Sprint Cup is scheduled to be run.

But, it probably will depend on Baltimore-based Cordish Co., the International Speedway Corp. (ISCA) partner that has the responsibility of putting up a Hard Rock Casino. The property will be like the one they built for the Seminole Indian Nation in Florida.

And, despite the tight credit market, ISCA officials advised state officials that financing would not be a problem. Each partner will invest between $40 and $45 million into the initial construction phase, with their eventual equity shares of the project to be set at 20% to 40%.

Actually, the facility will be owned by the State of Kansas.

Dan Houser, ISCA chief financial officer, said last week that early October, 2009, is the target for the first phase of the $705 million project.

"Race weekend is our goal, but at this point we think it’s prudent to not put any date in there," Houser said.

When completed, the project on the northwest section of Interstates 70 and 435, will be 1.5 million square feet with 3,000 slots, 140 table games, a 300-room hotel and 275,000 square feet of dining and entertainment venues.

Houser promised that the casino complex, with all its amenities, would be on a much different level from competing riverboat casinos in Missouri.

"I think the guys on the other side of the river are worried about this," Houser said, adding, "We’re not worried about them."