By Miriam Raftery
March 31, 2017 (El Cajon) –“This is truly our day. We’re here to celebrate,” Sycuan Tribal Chairman Cody Martinez told a packed house during a groundbreaking on the Sycuan reservation for the tribe’s casino expansion.
The ambitious project will include a 12-story hotel resort with 300 rooms, adult pool with swim-up bar, kids pool, gardens including a 420-foot-long “lazy river,” new restaurants , spa, 60,000 in additional gaming space, and a spacious 11,401 square foot ballroom that can double as concert hall seating 1,200 or banquet room with capacity for 700. The $226 million, 500,000 square foot project is slated to open in 2019.
New restaurants will include a Fresh Market with fast casual options, a raw bar and exterior lounge, contemporary and fine-dining restaurants for foodies. The existing GameDay Sports Bar & Grill will be converted to a brew house focused on local craft beers.
Chefs served up samples of foods at the groundbreaking event ranging from watermelon salad to seafood to beautifully displayed and delicious deserts.
Nick Hardwick from Fox 1360 opened the event by praising Sycuan as a “passionate community” that has given back to over 700 organizations in the region annually while developing a 20-30 year plan for the future. He quipped, “I’m looking forward to a Staycation at Sycuan.”
Supervisor Dianne Jacob hailed Sycuan as an “outstanding partner” to the County on road improvements and coming soon, a new trail along the Sweetwater River. She told tribal members, “Congratulations. This is a great day.”
NBA Superstar Bill Walton gave a video welcome noting “Dreams do come true.” Other VIPs in attendance included ex-Padres pitching star Trevor Hoffman and Supervisor Greg Cox, and tribal elders. A video tour was presented, along with a new logo: “Play, win, build together.”
Casino manager John Dinius recalled how far Sycuan has come from 1983, when the tribe opened its Bingo Palace. After a court decision and a ballot proposition enhanced opportunities, the tribe built and expanded its casino and next up, will open a full resort that goes far beyond gaming. The nearby Sycuan golf course formerly known as Singing Hills will reclaim its original name along with a new logo combing the Singing Hills and Sycuan names.
Dinius noted that tribal gaming has “put people to work” employing 12,000 people in total. Sycuan’s gaming has benefited not only the broader community across San Diego through its many donations, but also tribal members who have used gaming revenues for everything from “braces on children’s teeth” to “a Cadillac in Grandma’s driveway.”
Chairman Martinez (photo, left) noted that Sycuan is run by a handful of families who have worked hard through the years to achieve their dreams.
“It’s through blood, sweat and tears that we are hear today,” he said. “We are taking Sycuan to the next level.”