- On opening day, what should people expect?
The facility will offer premier quality entertainment. The 100,000 square-foot gaming space will be open, including 2,500 slots and 75 gaming tables, and 15 different restaurants, bars and retail shops.
- What will the buildings look like?
The Friedmutter Group has come up with a design featuring very high-quality aesthetics. There will be a lot of glass, wood and stone incorporated in the design, and there will even be great views from the facility.
- What types of food?
We will offer the best of the Northwest local names as well as national brands we know our customers will enjoy.
- How many employees?
800-1,200 jobs across all levels from senior management to front line employees. 250 construction jobs. Will go higher during peak construction periods.
- Why isn't there a hotel?
We hope our guests will utilize local hotel chains as we open our doors next year. We do plan to build a hotel in phase II.
- How big of a deal was it for you to get financing?
The financing arrangement was typical for a casino construction project of this size. We have secured $433 million of financing.
- Are there any other legal challenges?
There is currently an appeal underway in the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia. However, we have secured our financing and are confident this will not impact our goals.
- How long has this deal been in the works?
The Cowlitz and Mohegans have been working on a partnership since the mid-‘90s. The Mohegans, one of the most successful companies within the gaming and entertainment industry, look to partner with other tribes to help them seek the same level of success. The Cowlitz Project has been in the works since 2004.
- Where will the $ go?
This is a $500 million project to build a premier entertainment destination and significantly improve the I-5 interchange for the next 20 years. $32 million private investment in the Interchange.
- Anything out there to correct?
We want to embrace and continue to interact with the community. 2% of the facility's profits will go be donated to local arts and education programs. The Cowlitz Project demonstrates a shared commitment between Salishan-Mohegan and the Cowlitz Tribe to preserving Tribal heritage and improving the community through large-scale economic investment in economic and job growth, environmental sustainability and transportation improvement for the next 20 years.
- So that is in response to people saying you were reservation shopping?
We've been here since time immemorial. Our purpose has always been to serve our tribal members. We are investing in preserving the heritage of the Cowlitz Tribe and improving the lives of our members, and in turn this will advance the economy and vitality of the SW Washington community.
About the Financing
- What was the impact of your Moody B-3 on your ability to get financing?
Moody's B3 rating is typical for construction of a new casino, in this case reflecting the ramp-up risk and single asset profile of the Cowlitz (Tribe). Moody's also takes into account the risks common to Native American gaming issuers, including the uncertainty as to enforceability of lender's claims in bankruptcy or liquidation. We secured the financing, so that rating was not a large hurdle.
- Are there anymore legal issues or permitting hurdles?
There is an appeal, however what you should know there are plenty of options for the Tribe and we are proceeding with the construction.
About the Interchange
- When will the project begin?
- Why are you using roundabouts?
The roundabouts will help improve the traffic flow. Our traffic planners found through careful analysis that cars will save 10-12 seconds on average at the interchange as opposed to a light signal. Roundabouts are much safer and significantly reduce the risk of accidents and fatalities.
A roundabout also makes it easier for trucks, as they can yield and avoid coming to a complete stop. The roundabout design will complement traffic flow of the new four-lane bridge.
- Will there be a park and ride?
There are no plans in the works for a park and ride, but there is an ample amount of land to construct one in the future if there is enough demand.
- Is there a set budget? Are there funds available for overruns?
The funds are all private and no taxpayer money will be used, even for overruns.
- Who funded this project?
Salishan-Mohegan and the Cowlitz Tribe
- Will there be new street lighting?
Yes, lighting is part of the overall design, and the interchange will be much better lit than it is now.