Tucson theater demolished to make way for new tribal casino

Tucson gambling news

Construction crews demolished the abandoned Century Park Movie Theater in Tucson, Arizona, on Monday to create space for a new casino on the city’s west side. The property, located by Grant Road and Interstate 10, is owned by the Pascua Yaqui Tribe.

The 40 acres of land were brought into trust in December when President Joe Biden approved the Old Pascua Community Land Acquisition Act. This designated the property as sovereign land and declared it eligible for development into a gaming venue.

Prior to the demolition, Tribal Chairman Peter Yucupicio, who was born and lives in Old Pascua Village, revealed that the casino project was a dream of its residents.

“There was doubt. People thought it would never happen … it’s in our hands now,” he said.

“The theater will become, not as big as our other casino, but a casino with a hotel and a conference room, and then from there, the revenue will be shared throughout the community to beautify a lot of things, improve homes, send members to universities and better health.”

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According to the tribal council, 12% of the casino revenue would be given to the City of Tucson for community projects. The new venue is expected to bring between 800 and 900 new job opportunities.

″The goal is to beautify everything around us, extend our arms, and provide jobs. Provide for all members of the southern Arizona community, not just Yaqui, but you know, at the other casino, we employ a 60-40 mix, and 60 is nontribal,” Yucupicio continued.

The venue will be developed in two phases; the first will involve the casino, three food and beverage outlets, and a parking garage. According to Kim Van Amberg – CEO of Casino del Sol, the tribe’s existing gaming venue – work on the underground utilities will begin after the demolition is finished. Site preparation and construction will likely kick off in 18 to 24 months.

The project’s next phase will involve a conference center, a hotel, and a second parking garage by the property’s north end along Grant Road. There is no information about this phase’s timeline.

Multiple businesses are currently occupying the buildings by Grant Road, like Sonic, Habitat for Humanity, and Tucson Indoor Sports Center. The Pascua Yaqui Tribe is working to help them vacate the premises.

At the demolition ceremony, Tucson Mayor Regina Romero stated that the venue would continue to be an “economic hub”, providing several hundred jobs for the city’s residents. Romero has partnered with the Pascua Yaqui Tribe for several years on the actualization of the project.

“It’s taken a long time to get to this point today. This land has significant cultural and historic ties to the Pascua Yaqui people and the Pascua Yaqui people should decide what happens here,” Romero said.

The mayor further promised to support the tribe with whatever decision it made concerning the land. Once construction concludes, the casino will be the fifth and most centralized gaming venue in Tucson.

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