Gaming officials: Twin Arrows 90 percent complete
By Alastair Lee Bitsoi
TWIN ARROWS, Ariz., February 7, 2013
(Times photo – Paul Natonabah)
On a behind-the-scenes tour last Friday afternoon, Wayne Geneeha, a superintendent with the Hunt Construction Group, told the Navajo Times the new casino is about 90 percent complete.
"Right now we are getting on our final finishes – carpet, paint, stone, tile and kitchen equipment," said Geneeha, one of five superintendents overseeing the construction of the facility.
As the casino floor superintendent, Geneeha is charged with managing the construction of the casino floor, which includes the rotunda, food court, steakhouse, sports bar, gift shop, coffee shop and 24-hour restaurant.
In addition to the casino's 1,089 slot machines, 18 table games and 12 poker tables, it will also have a six-story hotel with 89 rooms and 16,000 square foot banquet and conference center, as part of its phase I construction.
The casino resort is located 22 miles east of Flagstaff and 35 miles west of Winslow, off I-40 at exit 29.
The theme for this casino is the Four Worlds from the Navajo Creation Story, the same creation story motif found at the gaming enterprise's three other properties – Fire Rock, Flowing Water and Northern Edge Casinos. The Friedmutter Group of Las Vegas, Nev., the firm that designed The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas, is the designer for Twin Arrows, showcasing Navajo culture in the building's exterior and interior.
Most of the building's exterior is completed with sandstone colors of red and yellow, nearly camouflage with the natural environment. The exterior also has in it Navajo-inspired designs representing the importance of weaving in Navajo culture.
Inside the casino, the walls are painted yellow with black trimming, and beams with tile pieces. Orange lighting fixtures above the space where the slot machines will go illuminate the casino floor.
During the tour on Friday, construction workers were at work unrolling and installing carpets on the casino floor.
The rest of the facility, including the kitchen and administrative offices, is decorated with white walls and nearly move-in ready. The six-story hotel, banquet and conference center, as well as the rotunda - the main atrium into the facility - are still under construction.
Other amenities include a fully equipped fitness center, heated indoor pool, and waste water treatment plant. Water to supply the facility comes from three wells and will be recycled for landscaping. A cell tower installed by Navajo Tribal Utility Authority has also been constructed on the grounds of the facility for cell and Internet service.
Phase two of the casino resort, which will start construction later this month, consists of a nightclub, oyster bar, hotel expansion of 120 rooms and European full-service spa.
Geneeha's assistant superintendent and project engineer, Wayne Williams, explained that when Twin Arrows opens its doors clientele would be impressed with the massive project. The Leupp, Ariz. native's maternal roots are less than five miles east of Twin Arrows.
"This is my first real project," Williams said. "It's quite amazing and it means a lot to be part of this. The whole gaming floor is awesome."
Navajo Nation Gaming Enterprise CEO Derrick Watchman anticipates Twin Arrows Resort Casino opening its doors mid-May, after training all of the 800 new hires that will operate the casino.
"We are looking to have the building completed and start occupancy in the various offices and get people trained in April," he said. "Roughly in the middle of May, open doors for business."
"The Twin Arrows Navajo Resort is going to be a magnificent gaming and hospitality property," Watchman added. "I am looking to make sure when we open our doors we'll have a high quality gaming hospitality and food and beverage experience."
Asked about the impact of the casino on the economy, including the Navajo economy, the NNGE Controller Ramsey Harrison said about $200 million per year in profits is going to the Navajo Nation.
Harrison's favorite part about the facility is the "whole thing."
"We started it from nothing," he said beaming with a smile. "It was something everybody thought we couldn't do."
"I agree with Ramsey," added Williams, who led the behind-the-scenes tour with Harrison. "There were many obstacles. We had to put this land into trust so we could put this up...it's just a good feeling. When we got hired, our jobs were to hire Navajos, which we've done here to build the place and forced it on the construction manager to comply with Navajo preference."
About 85 percent of all the construction workers are Navajo, including Williams and Geneeha, Harrison said.
Coconino County Supervisor Mandy Metzger, whose District 4 extends into Twin Arrows, said the casino is "wonderful" addition to the county, particularly its 16,000 square foot banquet and conference center and the opportunity for partnerships between the tribe and county.
"The resort and casino will be a huge attraction for all of northern Arizona, really, probably greater than that," she said. "I'm very hopeful this is a successful venture."
Metzger, who lives 18 miles south of Twin Arrows on a ranch, has seen the casino and resort rise everyday from the ground to its current state on her drive to and from home over the last year.
"It is extremely impressive," she said. "It looks like they have really done some great workmanship. It's going to be a great place to convene."