BOSSIER CITY, LA (KSLA) - After more than a year under construction, Margaritaville was open for business Thursday - at least for the day. The casino and resort opened for a test run in the final phase of inspections they'll have to pass before they can open for good on Saturday morning.
We've watched it rise from the banks of the Red River right next to Bass Pro Shops and the Louisiana Boardwalk since developers broke ground along 777 Margaritaville Way in February 2012.
On Thursday, hundreds turned out to see what it's like inside. "This is what we've been waiting for," said General Manager Barry Regula, "the chance to show this property off to all the residents of Shreveport, Bossier City and East Texas, and we are so pleased with the reaction we are receiving from everyone in the community."
And Regula appears confident that the investment in the property will pay off, in spite of revenue among the 5 casinos already doing business here being down $12 million last month. "There hasn't been an investment like this in the casino infrastructure for some time in this market, so this is something that's going to revitalize the industry here. We have a substantial investment, $205 million dollars in this property, and it's really delivered something new and exciting and fresh that is going to attract people and attract people not just locally, but people from East Texas that haven't been back here in a while."
The casino and hotel resort is expected to bring more than 1,200 jobs to Bossier Parish. They began accepting job applications in January 2013, and taking hotel reservations in April.
The casino is all on one level, spread across 30,000 square feet. There are around 1,300 slot machines and 54 table games. It also features a 400-room hotel and three restaurants. The Paradise Theater seats 900.
Hundreds of workers have already been hired, and more could be added.
At least $4 million has been spent updating the traffic design near the Louisiana Boardwalk leading in and out of the casino. It was already a high-traffic area. The City of Bossier hired an outside engineering company to research that challenge of keeping traffic flowing smoothly there.
The casino will have 3 entrances and exits, including one added off of Colquitt Avenue, north of Highway 80. Roads were widened elsewhere, and turn lanes were added. Two 2 roundabouts were also added on the property between the boardwalk and the casino, which technically belongs to the city.
The casino has also added 1,400 parking spaces, which are in addition to the ones right beside Bass Pro Shops.
Bossier City police say they will have 15 extra officers around the new casino and the boardwalk for the grand opening expected Saturday.
Pending regulatory approval, Margaritaville will reopen at 11 a.m. with a ribbon cutting. General Manager Barry Regula says Bossier City Mayor Lo Walker is expected to attend.