San Manuel Casino will soon have new neighbors.
The San Manuel Band of Mission Indians on Tuesday, Nov. 7, announced plans to build a 500-room hotel, a 4,000-seat entertainment venue and a 2,200-stall parking structure on 795,000 square feet of property adjacent to the existing casino.
People walk in and out of San Manuel Indian Bingo and Casino in Highland, Calif. on Tuesday, Nov. 7, 2017. The San Manuel Band of Mission Indians announced plans to build a 500-room hotel, a 4,000-seat entertainment venue and a 2,200-stall parking structure on 795,00 square feet of property adjacent to the existing casino. (Photo by Rachel Luna, The Sun/SCNG)San Manuel Indian Bingo and Casino in Highland, Calif. on Tuesday, Nov. 7, 2017. The San Manuel Band of Mission Indians announced plans to build a 500-room hotel, a 4,000-seat entertainment venue and a 2,200-stall parking structure on 795,00 square feet of property adjacent to the existing casino. (Photo by Rachel Luna, The Sun/SCNG)People walk in and out of San Manuel Indian Bingo and Casino in Highland, Calif. on Tuesday, Nov. 7, 2017. The San Manuel Band of Mission Indians announced plans to build a 500-room hotel, a 4,000-seat entertainment venue and a 2,200-stall parking structure on 795,00 square feet of property adjacent to the existing casino. (Photo by Rachel Luna, The Sun/SCNG)Show Caption of Expand
Tribe officials did not provide projected costs for the project, as it is still in the environmental and preliminary design phase.
Construction could begin as early as next year with a completion date in 2020.
The two-year project is expected to create approximately 1,400 construction jobs, San Manuel officials said. About 1,200 will be hired to work at the new sites.
“This is an opportunity for the Tribe to continue to remain vibrant in this market space,” San Manuel CEO Jerry Paresa said. “It’s a win-win for the community. Not a lot of investment is going on in San Bernardino, and we have the opportunity to move the needle.
“We’re really excited about the opportunity.”
The yet-to-be-named hotel will have between 15 and 17 floors, officials said. Also, a resort-style spa and pool, high-end restaurants and retail space. Some 55,000 square feet is being carved out for expanded gaming.
A new performance venue will offer an alternative to San Bernardino’s National Orange Show Events Center and Devore’s Glen Helen Amphitheater.
San Manuel previously used its old bingo hall for entertainment.
“San Manuel has been such a wonderful community partner over the many, many years they’ve been here,” said Deborah Barmack, president of the nonprofit InlandAction, a coalition of local businesses and entities dedicated to bettering the community. “We’ve been waiting for the day that we would have an entertainment venue, and especially a big, beautiful hotel, in this portion of our county.
“This investment does not come along every day.”
The economic benefits of San Manuel’s expansion near Highland will manifest subtly, said John Husing, an area economist. By spending money at local businesses, San Manuel employees, both temporary and permanent, will create jobs within those walls.
“For every new job, another is created,” Husing said. “If San Manuel is estimating creating 1,400 construction jobs, the total overall impact would be 2,800 jobs, with half of them not knowing that they’re employed because of the project.”
Moreover, if the hotel, performance venue and extended gaming space attract dollars from outside the Inland Empire – as the casino does – the region will reap additional benefits, he said.
“And when (San Manuel) in turn puts that money into the community,” Husing added, “whether they buy dry cleaning or they donate it to scholarships or other sorts of investments, there’s a huge effect in that way.”
A 2016 study found that San Manuel paid more than $200 million in wages and benefits to its 4,000-plus employees – 3,200 of whom call San Bernardino County home. The Tribe generated nearly $1 billion of annual direct, indirect and induced economic impact in the county, according to the report, and has donated more than $80 million to county organizations.
“The whole gaming industry … has been quite a boom in terms of creating jobs that allow people to get into the hotel, entertainment and gaming industries,” Husing said, “therefore creating an income that wouldn’t otherwise be there.”
Judi Penman, San Bernardino Area Chamber of Commerce president, commended San Manuel for bringing thousands of jobs to the region, and lauded the Tribe for transforming its land into a destination for all.
“They’re not doing this just for themselves,” she said of the expansion. “They’re doing this to enhance this community. They’re rooted here, and they believe in this community.
“We’re so lucky to have them. I see nothing but good coming out of this.”
With the announcement, San Manuel began a public review process; county residents have 30 days to comment on such off-reservation issues as aesthetics, noise and traffic. San Manuel will then draft a Tribal Environment Impact Report to issue to the state.
The public will have another 45 days to review the draft and comment further.
San Manuel officials expect the public input process to conclude in the spring.
“The Tribe has been a key and critical partner with the region economically, socially, and culturally, certainly,” said Jacob Coin, San Manuel executive director of public affairs. “We’re proud of that record, and proud to continue with these kinds of investments that benefit the entire region.”
San Manuel is the latest Southern California tribal casino to announce plans for expansion.
Pechanga Resort & Casino is wrapping up its $285 million expansion, to include a new hotel wing, a resort-style pool complex, new ballroom and two new restaurants. Likewise, Soboba Casino is building a new casino and hotel complex.
And, Pala Casino Spa & Resort recently broke ground on a $170 million project that includes a new hotel.
“The Tribe is not like a corporation in that it can pick up and move to another county, another state,” Paresa said. “The Tribe is very anchored here, and it’s a very important part of their values to give back to the community and invest in the community.”
San Manuel expansion by the numbers
Casino square footage: 55,000
Hotel rooms: Approximately 500
Restaurants: To be determined
Pools and spas: To be determined
Employees: As many as 1,200 between the new sites
Source: San Manuel Band of Mission Indians