At Vee Quiva Hotel & Casino, the newest attraction of Arizona’s Gila River Indian Community, the welcome mat is in place with a creative invitation to “Let Us Q You In.”
Doors officially open on July 2 as part of week-long festivities to highlight the stunning Frank Lloyd Wright-inspired architecture by the Friedmutter Group, an award winning architecture, interior design and master planning firm that also designed the Navajo Northern Edge Casino and The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas.
The $135 million facility has been under workman’s saws and hammers for a year, energizing the local economy by creating more than 500 construction industry jobs. The casino, open 24-hours a day, year-round, is expected to provide more than 300 new part-time and permanent staff positions once interviews are completed.
Tribal Governor Gregory Mendoza was not available for public comment about the new facility and its anticipated overall impact on Gila River members. At the casino’s ground breaking in June 2012, he said the casino would “result in increased services to our elders and to our young people.”
Melody Hudson of Gila River Gaming Enterprises noted that estimated economic impact to the tribe “is considered confidential,” but she added, “The new property is expected to continue the long-term sustainability and growth to the Gila River Indian Community and its people.”
The resort will feature the first Ditka’s in the Valley. The steakhouse was founded by former Chicago Bears football coach Mike Ditka.
The Laveen, Arizona-based facility features a 70,000-square-foot gaming floor with 950 slot machines, numerous table poker opportunities, three dozen oversized tables games and a 500-plus-seat Bingo Park (where one lucky card holder recently pocketed $96,000).
Guests are invited to end their night at the three-story, 90-room boutique hotel with pool and fitness center.
Once the ribbon is cut over the holiday weekend, tickets will go on sale for the inaugural musical performance at the Vee Quiva Event Center, two nights of performances by the Jefferson Airplane spin-off, Jefferson Starship, on tour since the early nineties. “The hits that made the group an integral part of the 60s and 70s psychedelic music scene can be heard at West Valley’s newest music venue in a weekend of incredible rock and roll, July 12-13,” state casino promotional materials.
Casino CEO John James is a 20-plus-year seasoned casino executive brought on board in 2011 to guide the Vee Quiva project and future tribal expansion plans. “John understands the role of Gila River Indian Community’s culture in the company success,” said Kenneth Manuel, president of the Board of Directors.
Another industry veteran, Louis DiCampli, who hired and trained Gila River community members as blackjack dealers, will oversee gaming operations.
In an interview with Phoenix Business Journal, James outlined his management philosophies in the gaming industry: “One of the big motivating factors is passion and obsession about your company, all that you do and how you do it. The tone gets set from the top in an attempt to exceed the expectations of all our guests. My goal as coach, mentor, and leader is to take the team and get them across the finish line.”
To see how James and his Vee Quiva Casino team are doing, log on to the website for Gila River Indian Community’s three Phoenix-area casinos, www.wingilariver.com, for interactive maps and up-to-the-minute information about casino promotions—as well as current totals in the Gila River Riches jackpot.
“From the time the Gila River Indian Community and Gila River Casinos embarked on this world-class visionary project, we knew we would offer guests an unparalleled experience that will create lifetime memories,” James said. “This is a one-of-a-kind destination that will be one of the Arizona hot spots to see and be seen.”