Penn National Brings Hollywood to Sioux City - Siouxland News - KMEG 14 and FOX 44

Penn National Brings Hollywood to Sioux City


(SIOUX CITY, IA) It was a night straight out of the 1930's. The glitz and glam set the stage for Penn National Gaming's proposals for a land-based "Hollywood-themed" casino in Sioux City.
It's the last presentation, before the Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission begins its decision making process.

Penn officials say, this presentation was a way to start fresh with the community, and show everyone what they're capable of doing.

From the music, to the table games, Penn's presentation is anything but ordinary.
"I was really surprised, they really went out of their way to impress us, it's very impressive," says Sioux City resident, Diane Sorenson.
"We've invested 100 million dollars in the purchase of the Argosy in this community. We've been here for almost 8 years, we've been a good neighbor, hundreds of thousands of dollars in community contributions. We want to look forward," says Penn's Director of Public Affairs, Karen Bailey.
A look into the future while capturing the past.
"Were actually one of the largest collectors of Hollywood memorabilia in the world and so we actually had some of this stuff shipped in just for tonight," says Bailey.
Memorabilia that would deck the walls and casino floor of a land-based casino built by Penn, if the IRGC chooses one of its two proposals.

The first is a 160 million dollar investment downtown off Gordon Drive. It would have 750 slots, 20 table games, an 800 car garage, a 150 room hotel and 500 seat multi-purpose concert venue.

The second is a 167 million dollar investment just south of Port Neal, with similar plans to the downtown casino. And Penn says it's starting from scratch.
"Having to renovate an historic building is a little more difficult with the gaming model that we know is successful, so therefore we chose to do new construction for our facility," says Bailey.
And what about the funding?
"We can finance that project today, and number two, it is not dependent on tax payer subsidies or tax payer financing. It's our money, all of it, and we're ready to build," she says.
And it's clear Penn and people in Sioux City are counting the days until the final decision.
"They're going to have a casino downtown in Sioux City, just make their mind, and get it done with and let's start going," says Sioux City resident, Mark Jungers.

The ball is now in the Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission's court. Its next meeting will be January 10th, where the groups supporting the Hard Rock, the Warrior and the Hollywood casinos will present their proposals, no questions asked. The commission will visit Sioux City at the end of March and then make a final decision by April 18th.

The past year has been a roller coaster of emotions for Penn National's current employees at the Argosy Casino, never knowing if their jobs were safe or if the boat will remain open.

But, last week, Sioux City and Penn came to an agreement on a lease extension, it will remain open for another year. But even through the thick and thin, Argosy employees say, Penn National has kept them in the loop, the entire time.
 "Its very less stressful, that we will be O. K. until next January, and hopefully nothing else comes up. But if anything does come up then my company would have a meeting, they would tell everybody everything, and they'd be forward. They don't have any secrets from us, they are very good to us," says Argosy Casino employee, Aleah Cochran.
The lease extension begins January 29th allowing the public 30 days to review the terms and conditions.

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