PITTSBURG — Kansas Crossing Casino and Hotel opened Friday morning with a bang — literally.
Officials with the casino depressed a “detonator” which looked like an old fashioned mining tool, and with a bang and a shower of confetti the final state-owned casino in Kansas was declared officially open.
It was the culmination of a process which began in May of 2016 when the first shovelful of dirt was turned and lead developer Bruce Christianson announced that the oft-delayed project would be $85 million rather than the $75 million of the original proposal.
“It’s been a challenge,” he said Friday, an allusion to the lawsuit by the Cherokee County Commission and losing proposal Castle Rock, which delayed construction by nine months.
Christianson said the project wouldn’t have been possible without the help of the City of Pittsburg and Crawford County.
“I want to specifically thank the city and county officials,” he said. “Everyone has been so helpful to us.”
Christianson also thanked Kansas State Senator Jake LaTurner, (R-Pittsburg), who authored the bill which reduced the initial investment required to build the casino, paving the way for the opening.
LaTurner also called out Representative Adam Lusker, (D-Frontenac), as well as other area representatives who helped shepherd the bill through the Kansas House.
He noted the investment and jobs are good for the area.
“An $85 million investment and 400 employees in Southeast Kansas is a big deal,” LaTurner said.
Pittsburg City Manager Daron Hall agreed.
“I’m so proud of the state for seeing what these destination casinos can do,” he said. “It means men and women in our region can go to work.”
Casino General Manager Doug Fisher said Kansas Crossing is already giving back. The proceeds from Monday’s gaming test in which select players club members were allowed to play were donated to several area non-profits, the Child Advocacy Center, the Parsons Area Community Foundation, Safehouse Crisis Center and the American Legion posts of Crawford, Bourbon and Cherokee Counties which each received a check for $5,100.
Once the confetti settled, the doors were opened and a line of players stretching to the back of the casino property were let in.
Ed Kunce, of Joplin, had traveled over early Friday morning in order to be one of the first people in the doors.
“I got up early and came over,” he said, adding he and his wife go to some of the other area casinos occasionally, but came because it was “something new,” and because Kansas Crossing has craps, which is not available elsewhere in the area.
“It’s just exciting,” he said. “Something new and fun to do.”
— Patrick Richardson is the managing editor of the Pittsburg Morning Sun. He can be emailed at firstname.lastname@example.org, or follow him on Twitter @PittEditor.