A $2.75 million deal between the Keweenaw Bay Indian Community and the Baraga Lakeside Inn was finalized last Saturday to settle the purchase of nearly five acres of property for a new KBIC casino right on US-41 in Baraga.
Tribal Council treasurer Eddy Edwards said the purchase comes after a tough loss to the state when the KBIC attempted to build a casino in Marquette.
â??Last year, the governor killed that deal so then we refocused on what the second effort was, was the Baraga Lakeside relocation down here on the lakeside, on the highway, more visible, more accessible, with a great view of Lake Superior, Keweenaw Bay, and you can even see Mount Arvon in the distance,â?? he said.
Edwards said because the new casino is being built on reservation land, no additional approval from the state is necessary.
Vice chairwoman of the KBIC Carole LaPointe said the council brought it before the tribal community, and 77 percent of its members voted yes on the purchase.
â??It seems we had a lot of people that came forward to volunteer for the committee and put their ideas in, and we had a lot of great ideas,â?? said LaPointe.
The new facility will relocate the original Ojibwa casino off M-38 to the hotel marina on the shore of Keweenaw Bay. They plan to renovate the existing 68-room hotel, include an 800-seat convention center for concerts and events, as well as luxury suites for guests, plus a three-story parking garage.
â??We also have a new sports bar design with an indoor and outdoor stage depending on the weather that we can have smaller entertainment both inside and outside,â?? added Edwards. â??We have a brand new restaurant planned with a rooftop terrace.â??
The other buildings on the property, like the Baraga County Museum, Eagle Radio building, and others, are planned to be removed for the new facility, though no official plans for where they will be moved to have been made.
Edwards and LaPointe said they hope the new facility will help boost the economy of Baraga County, including more jobs for locals and more business opportunities.
â??This is the gateway to the Copper Country,â?? said LaPointe. â??This will be a great destination site, not only for our community, but for tourists and residents in the whole U.P.â??
Though the cost of building the new facility is unknown at this time, it is expected that a number will be finalized by the end of August, soon after which construction is anticipated to begin.