A popular gambling destination about 90 minutes southeast of the Tri-Cities is investing $85 million in family-friendly updates and a new hotel tower.
Work has started on the multiphased project at Wildhorse Resort & Casino at Mission, Ore., just east of Pendleton.
Kennewick-based Lydig Construction is the general contractor for what promises to be one of the largest construction projects in the region.
By comparison, replacing Kennewick High School will cost an estimated $87.4 million.
The Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation authorized the expansion to improve amenities for families, and to keep up with soaring demand for hotel rooms, said spokeswoman Mary Liberty-Traughber.
“It will be a better place for families to come,” she said. “There’s something for everyone.”
Children’s center at casino complex
In the first phase, the children’s entertainment center will be renovated and expanded to 48,000 square feet.
The center will gain a 24-lane bowling center, where 16 lanes can be isolated for groups, leagues and parties.
The expansion will provide added room for arcade games and accommodate more children in the supervised child care center. There will be space for three restaurants and other amenities.
A second hotel tower to match the existing 300-room structure will be built in a later phase. The contractor for that project has not been selected.
Liberty-Traughber said Lydig and its subcontractors have installed fencing, brought in equipment and taken steps to begin pre-construction demolition.
New parking will offset spaces being set aside for construction. The new spots will remain after construction wraps up.
10-story hotel tower addition
The expansion, the fourth since 1994, will augment Wildhorse’s existing adult-centered offerings. Its 24-hour casino offers more than 1,200 slots, table games and keno play.
The property includes the existing hotel, an RV park, seven restaurants, five-screen movie theater, 18-hole golf course, travel plaza and tribal museum.
Wildhorse officials say they’re minimizing the construction project’s impact on visitors, but caution people to use follow signs and use shuttles and the valet service.
The hotel addition later this year will echo the existing 10-story hotel, said Liberty-Traughber.
“We are full all the time. We just don’t have any room,” she said.
Wildhorse currently employs about 800, depending on the season and special events.
While Wildhorse is a regional draw, officials say most guests live within about an hour’s drive.
“We see a lot of guests from the Tri-Cities,” she said.