It was 2 p.m. last Thursday, just a regular day of the week.
Desert Diamond West Valley Casino’s parking lot was packed.
Cars were circling and circling, looking for a parking space like the mall during Christmas time.
Clearly, the West Valley is ready for the Tohono O’odham Nation’s massive expansion and launch of the long-awaited casino. A temporary casino is at 91st and Northern avenues, bordered by Glendale and Peoria. Next to it, construction crews are working intensely on the final phases of the permanent casino.
Starting at 8 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 19, the new casino will be ready to roll.
A snapshot of the Desert Diamond West Valley Casino:
• Cost: $400 million.
Size: 75,000 square feet interior, 2.3 million square feet total.
Crew: 2,000 workers.
Food: Five restaurants.
Slots: 1,000 slot machines.
Poker: 36 tables.
• Blackjack: 48 tables.
“This has been a long time coming” said Treena Parvello, director of Government Relations and Communications for the Nation.
“We’re excited to finally unveil the next phase for this unique amenity in the West Valley, which is creating jobs and opportunities. This would not have been possible without the leadership of the Tohono O’odham Nation, and the guidance of the Enterprise Management Board,” she added.
The Tohono O’odham Nation announced the casino in 2009, then in mid-2018 said it would be ready by December 2019. The massive construction nearly hit its mark.
“Our construction team has done an amazing job keeping this enormous project moving forward.
“We’re also fortunate to have a dedicated staff of team members who have kept a 24-hour operation running smoothly in the middle of a massive construction effort,” said Parvello.
A big push for the casino has been hiring over the last few months, with a target of 2,000 employees.
For the nation, it’s a $400 million gamble.
But there is a reason the saying “the house always wins” has been around for so long.
“An interim casino facility opened in December 2015 to huge crowds, and has seen great success over the past four years,” said Matt Smith, a casino spokesman.
The new casino will be twice as large as the temporary one, which has been been flush with gamblers.
“The interim property created over 700 jobs and has had hundreds of millions of dollars in positive economic impacts,” Smith said.
He noted the new casino will have a VIP lounge and gaming space and additional covered parking.
Tohono O’odham Nation views the new casino as a project not only for the West Valley, but by the West Valley community.
“All of us at Desert Diamond Casino are very grateful for the incredible support we’ve received from the community since day one,” said Parvello.
“We will continue working with our local partners to build a more vibrant and prosperous West Valley.”
Though Desert Diamond West Valley casino lists its address as 9431 W. Northern Avenue, Glendale, it is closer to Peoria City Hall (3.2 miles) than Glendale City Hall (5.2 miles).
Peoria, for one, welcomes the new casino.
“These large-scale attractions bring more people to the area, which in turn creates a positive economic environment for surrounding businesses,” said Rick Buss, Peoria’s director of Economic Development.
“Although Peoria has not done a specific economic impact study on this project, we know prominent destination development will bring strong economic derivatives to the area and region. Peoria is happy to see the casino is enjoying great success in the West Valley.”
More to come
Though a $400 million project is in itself impressive, this is not the final phase of the plan for the area.
“This is just the beginning for Desert Diamond Casino West Valley,” said Smith.
“Preliminary plans for future phases of construction include additional amenities such as a hotel, spa and convention center.”
Sintra Hoffman, president and CEO of WESTMARC, said the casino opening is a big deal for the West Valley.
“The Loop 101 corridor has been shaping up as a prime location for the West Valley’s entertainment options for more than a decade,” she said.
“Now, the opening of Desert Diamond West Valley Casino will truly tip the scale with new entertainment and dining options for this region..”
Like others, she has been anxiously awaiting the opening. “This project has been in the works for many years and we’re thankful for the commitment, dedication and tenacity of the Tohono O’odham nation’s Tribal Leadership who stayed the course to make this happen,” Hoffman said.
“From an economic development perspective, the Desert Diamond West Valley Casino just added an incredible amenity to the region that will also serve as a business attraction asset.”
The casino will wish its temporary home farewell with specials and drawings Tuesday, Feb. 18, the night before the grand opening.
For more information on Desert Diamond Casino West Valley, 9431 W. Northern Avenue, Glendale, visit ddcaz.com/west-valley/.