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US – Tule River Tribe to spend $200m relocating Eagle Mountain Casino

By - 18 August 2021

Tule River Tribe Gaming Authority will spend $200m on Phase 1 of the relocation of the Eagle Mountain Casino to a new site approximately 17 miles from the current location.

The first phase of the work includes building a new 2,000-seat Event Center, River Steak House, coffee house, 24-hour diner, sports bar and grill, and gaming spaces for 1,750 slot machines and 20 table games. Hill’s services will encompass construction management, scheduling, estimating and cost management, quality control, planning and coordination with third-party providers, and contract administration, among others.

Hill International has been awarded the contract for the build.

“This project shows the strength of the Eagle Mountain Casino experience specifically and the return of tourism in general as we emerge from the pandemic,” said Hill Vice President, Native American Program Services Henry Corken. “Our team has a demonstrated history managing projects for Native American gaming clients across the US, and we’ll bring our best practices to Eagle Mountain to make certain the project is a success.”

Hill Chief Executive Office Raouf Ghali added: “Entertainment and tourism are gaining momentum around the world, from casinos and resorts to cruise ports and amusement parks,” says Ghali. “Hill specializes in work in these sectors around the world and are ready to assist clients like the Tule River Tribe Gaming Authority realize their destination projects as-planned to take full advantage of this recovery.”

The tribe has chosen HBG as the design firm for their new casino on 40 acres located near the Porterville Airport off Highway 65.

Joe Baruffaldi, AIA, Principal for the project, said: “The new casino relocation to Porterville will offer a more centralised location for casino guests and will bring a bit of Tule River culture into the valley by keeping the feel of the Tule River heritage in the architecture and the gaming experience.

“As designers, we find the research phase and immersion into our client’s culture and project vision fascinating; so, we were thrilled that the ownership team decided to integrate key elements of their tribal land, and their relationship with the land, into the property aesthetic. It becomes quite an important and unique differentiator. The tribe’s indigenous homeland is where the Great Sequoia grows. The Sequoia tree canopy, trunk and roots became main conceptual design elements that abstractly tie the story of culture and heritage to the aesthetic design of the casino property – from the arrival experience to the details within,” he added.

Throughout the casino, a variety of tribal basket patterning will highlight ceiling and floor planes and light fixtures. Elements come together to create a holistic design environment. Patterns and motifs of tribal symbolism will help draw guests through wayfinding paths, to the casino, the center bar, the dining venues and to ancillary spaces. A significant Tule River tribal motif called The Flight of the Butterfly will begin at the entry and continue through the gaming space into the center bar. There it will intertwine at the ceiling soffit with a mountain silhouette design that emulates the regional landscape. The center bar conceptually symbolizes the idea of the fire as a place of gathering, rest and fellowship. Fire is historically welcoming and symbolic to the tribe’s culture.

Mr. Baruffaldi added: “The interior entrance corridor will showcase tribal baskets and other cultural elements. A design concept inspired by embers and gathering by the fire draws guests to interact with the casino floor, as tribal motifs like the Flight of the Butterfly basket pattern begin to weave through soffits and ceiling features toward the center bar. These signature touches will be remembered by loyal customers many of which were frequent visitors to the former reservation casino.”

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