New Event Center-Hotel Will Be DoubleTree; Hiring Could Start In June
By Mike Perleberg
(Lawrenceburg, Ind.) – Construction is about 80 percent complete on the Lawrenceburg Event Center and Hotel, but the folks at Hollywood Casino are 100 percent in their efforts to get the facility off to a successful start.
The event center is on pace for June opening. The hotel is expected to begin accepting guests in July or August, Hollywood Casino general manager Todd George told a group of Lawrenceburg business owners prior to a tour of the under-construction complex Wednesday.
“I think driving people to this region and marketing this region is what we need to do to compete with Ohio and an over-saturated gaming market,” George said.
The City of Lawrenceburg is paying for the construction of the $49 million facility. Upon completion, it will be operated by Hollywood Casino. While construction has appeared to slow down on the outside in recent month, crews have been busy inside. More outdoor progress will appear when the weather warms up, said Bruce Tumlin with construction management firm Messer Construction.
George revealed that the 168-room hotel – which includes 12 suites – will be branded a DoubleTree by Hilton. The demographics that brand attracts, he said, will tie in well with what Hollywood Casino desires.
“We’re trying to draw groups, families, high-income people down here that have the ancillary spending we are all looking for,” George said. “It is really about trying to market to a group of people that we are not touching right now. It’s a group of people that we will need to do something more than what has been done in the past to get them to be committed to come down here.”
The Hilton partnership will also provide “robust” leads for organizations looking for a venue to host their event, George said.
The center’s 35,000 square foot of event space will be capable of hosting concerts or conventions, the largest of which will be in the 18,000 square foot exhibition hall. Already, Hollywood has booked 24 events there with 7,000 attendees anticipated. In addition, up to four concerts will be hosted this year with more expected in 2015. The casino was not willing to say who those acts may be.
Hollywood Casino’s food and beverage director, Greg Tufts, said a restaurant and bar at the hotel side of the facility will provide breakfast, lunch and dinner for guests and the public. One-hundred-fifty seats will be both inside as well as outside on the Ohio River levee. The restaurant will be Hollywood’s own brand, not a national chain.
Fans of Starbucks coffee will be able to grab a cup of the signature beverages in a Starbucks “We Proudly Brew” coffee shop. The news did bring concern from some in the business group concerned with how more competition will serve to benefit downtown Lawrenceburg’s other coffee shops and cafes. George said the small shop will not be a full-blown Starbucks, serving only roasted coffee.
Advertising for jobs at the event center and hotel will begin appearing in April, said Endia Sizemore, vice president of human resources for Hollywood Casino. Job fairs to hire event center, hotel, and restaurant employees and supervisors will take place in May, June, and August. One will take place at Ivy Tech Community College in Lawrenceburg and another at the Florence Freedom stadium in northern Kentucky.
Hollywood Casino employs 650 Indiana residents, 75 percent of which are from Dearborn County, Sizemore said. The casino could look to continue that Indiana-heavy hiring with the new facility.
In addition to the hotel and convention guests, those employees could also support downtown businesses.
“We’re looking forward to putting a lot more people downtown than what we’ve ever had before. That’s the important piece here,” George said.