Course change: Oneida swings into golf mode in N.Y.

May 21, 2002 2:08 AM

On the heels of authorizing signature of the casino compact with New York, the Oneida Indian Nation announced plans to build two championship golf courses.

The 18-hole courses would be designed by Robert Trent Jones and Tom Fazio and ready for play within two years at Turning Stone Casino Resort. The golf courses would complement the popular Shenandoah Golf Club.

The Jones course is slated to open in June 2003, while the Fazio development would begin play one year later.

Spanish Trail and Southern Highlands in Las Vegas are two of the famed courses Jones has built around the country.

"Speaking on behalf of the Men’s Council and Clan Mothers, the Oneida people and the Nation’s 3,100 employees, it is a pleasure to present the best designers in the business to these very special projects," said Ray Halbritter, representative for the Oneida Nation.

Shenandoah, although just two years old, has won universal praise and ranks in the top courses in upstate New York. Casino chief operating officer Frank Riolo said that adding two courses will change the nature of Turning Stone and make it the only casino with three upper level golf courses.

On the horizon is the June 15 gala opening of the new 24,000 square foot clubhouse at Shenandoah. Work is also continuing on a 70,000 square foot expansion of the casino to be completed this fall that will include office space, a new lounge and more gaming.

Trump backs out

Trump Hotels & Casino Resorts decided to back away from its sale of $470 million in mortgage notes because of interest rates that were unacceptable to the company.

The company also said it would be better served by returning to the capital markets later in the year.

Trump had offered investors $340 million in the first mortgage arrangement and $130 million in a second mortgage.

Boyd still pitching

Boyd Gaming made one final pitch to gain a referendum on the November ballot for a Rhode Island casino in West Warwick.

Donald Snyder, president of Boyd Gaming, said his proposal would "help protect existing gambling operations at Lincoln Park and Newport Grand Jai Alai and won’t overwhelm the marketplace structure."

Boyd Gaming and the Narragansett Indian Tribe have combined on a proposal that would call for 2,700 slot machines, 96 table games, 200 hotel rooms, five restaurants, a 10-screen movie complex, bowling alleys, a 4,200-car parking garage and convention space.

The plan would create 1,600 construction jobs and 2,000 permanent positions that would pay an average salary of $31,500 a year before tips.

Cherokees expanding

The Cherokee Nation in Oklahoma plans to build a 150-room hotel and double the size of its casino in Catoosa to help develop the area as a destination site.

The tribe claimed the additions would create several hundred new jobs. Jerry Floyd, vice president of the Cherokee Nation, said his group was the first tribe in Oklahoma to build a destination gaming facility that includes family-oriented amenities and attractions.

Construction is expected to begin in July. A temporary gaming structure is expected to done by July.

Tough Gov. to crack

Maryland Gov. Parris Glendening vetoed a proposed law that would have quickened the process toward casino gambling.

Glendening cited fears that the bill would have established deadlines that could have required him as early as next January to rule on the request for recognizing gambling.

ALSO: Mohegan Sun experienced a rise in slot revenues for April, while Foxwoods leveled off for the same period. Mohegan’s win take was up about 20 percent from this time last year. Both Connecticut casinos expect better results in May”¦ JCC Holding Co., which owns Harrah’s New Orleans Casino, did not meet first quarter projections from the previous year. Harrah’s reportedly fell $17 million short of $268 million goal”¦ Horseshoe Gaming is confident that a riverboat casino gaming license in northwestern Louisiana will be renewed”¦Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick is confident he can resolve the City Council’s concerns regarding his casino deals.

BUSINESS AS USUAL ”” Belmont has NYRA, not VLTs.

Aqueduct bails out NYRA

The New York Racing Association will receive a five-year extension of its franchise with the promise that video lottery terminals will be installed at Aqueduct Race Track.

The deal insures that New York can gain some revenues from the slot-like machines often found at casinos. At the same time, NYRA will continue its rights to run the state’s three thoroughbred tracks ””Belmont, Saratoga and Aqueduct.

NYRA chairman Barry Schwartz, the chairman of the board for Calvin Klein jeans, was involved in negotiating the deal last week. Schwartz denied the NYRA’s push for the deal was to maintain control of the three racetracks.

"The whole mission of the franchise extension was directed at making the VLT program break even," said Schwartz, noting that NYRA is a non-profit organization."

The Saratoga Equine Sports Center, the city’s harness track, has expressed a desire to install the video terminals.

Illinois pushes slots

The Illinois legislature sees the addition of slot machines at state racetracks as the best way to subtract a budget crisis.

The state is facing a budget shortfall of about $2 billion, with no politically acceptable solution in sight. Racing executives, while against casino gaming, maintain that slots at tracks might be the solution to the state’s revenue problem.