“It’s running two construction projects at one time, which is exciting, and you get to learn everything from this one — the little corner turns that could make everything that much better,” Adam Saks, president and COO of Ultrastar Entertainment, said while standing in the hours-from-opening Cherokee facility. Ultrastar will manage both facilities.
The $13 million, 38,000-square-foot Valley River addition, expected to be complete by late spring or early summer 2018, will feature 16 bowling lanes, a 2,200-square foot arcade with 35 games, two bars, an entertainment stage and a sit-down restaurant serving all three meals and capable of seating 225 people.
“We’re just extremely excited about bringing this amenity to the property,” said Lumpy Lambert, general manager at Valley River. “We think that this restaurant, this bowling and casino bar atmosphere, will continue to add to the amenity mix that we have already, and it’s just something that our guests will appreciate and enjoy.”
The new facility will bear many similarities to the one now complete in Cherokee, but it won’t be identical. One of the biggest differences will be the location of the stage, which will be more central to the casino floor than to the bowling alley, whereas the stage in the Cherokee facility is oriented more toward the bowling and arcade areas.
“The footprint’s a little smaller, but the essential componentry is very much similar,” Saks said.
Valley River itself is still a fairly new facility, opening at the end of September 2015. By the end of its first year, the gaming-focused casino in Murphy had seen 1.1 million visitors, slightly down from the 1.5 million expected. Lambert said that, while there’s still some time left before the second year is over, visitation over the past 11 months has been “right on target” with expectations.
“We’re excited about this project we’ve got going on and finishing out the fiscal year and the calendar year as best we can and continuing our efforts to maximize the potential of this property,” Lambert said. “It’s been a good start and we’re excited about where we’re at — and equally excited about the opportunities ahead of us.”
— By Holly Kays, staff writer