Welcoming billboards

Huge billboards at the southeast corner of 91st and Northern avenues thank West Valley residents for their support and signal the start of construction of West Valley Resort and Casino.

The steel and concrete has been ordered. The Tohono O’odham Nation is anxious to begin the gaming business as quickly as possible, considering it has waited six years through litigation and congressional hearings, and has spent millions of dollars in the process.

It all began in January 2009 with the announcement the Nation owned the land and planned to build a resort and casino on property at 95th and Northern avenues. The Nation did not initially receive support from City of Glendale officials, who claimed the property was inside its municipal boundaries. The courts ruled otherwise except for a small strip of land jutting southward from Northern.

Other tribal communities in the Valley took the Nation to court, alleging Tohono O’odham had broken the compact approved by Arizona voters in 2002.

Again, the courts ruled in the Nation’s favor.

It has been a roller coaster ride for both sides, but now the Nation is ready to start building its basic structures. This time, it proceeds with Glendale City Council approval.

A spokesperson for the Nation said the interim gaming facility will be up and running within 12 months and construction on the permanent facility will begin.

There are parking spaces that must be built – more than 1,000 to start.

The fence around the entire Nation-owned property is in place, and now, grading can begin.

All pre-construction activities, including soil testing, archaeological surveys and related studies have been completed. A joint venture headed by Hunt Construction Group and PENTA Building Group has been assembled to construct the resort, and all key subcontractors have been retained to work on the project.

The first phase of the facility will feature more than 1,000 slots, restaurants, bar, rewards center, and cage. The Nation has said the casino/resort’s operation will also create more than 500 new, permanent jobs in the West Valley. After the first phase is established, construction of the second phase of the $400 million project will continue, including the final, fully-developed gaming facility.

Tohono O’odham Gaming Enterprise CEO Andy Asselin said, “We are very excited to be moving forward with developing this state-of-the-art entertainment facility. We are eager to begin gaming and creating thousands of jobs and positive economic development in the West Valley.”

The Tohono O’odham Gaming Enterprise is an entity of the Tohono O’odham Nation, a federally-recognized Indian tribe, with existing reservation lands in Maricopa County, Pinal County, and Pima County, Arizona. The West Valley Resort is at 95th and Northern avenues on lands that were taken into trust by the federal government. The Nation has stated the resort and casino will generate thousands of new jobs and more than $300 million in annual economic impact.