River Spirit To Reopen Next Week

Jun 14, 2019

Chief James Floyd meets with reporters inside the casino
Credit Sixpr

Muscogee (Creek) Nation Principal Chief James Floyd and River Spirit Casino Resort Chief Executive Officer Pat Crofts announced today the Resort will reopen its doors to the public on Friday, June 21 at 8 am. The Resort closed on Wednesday, May 22 as a result of the increased rise of water in the Arkansas River.

“Today’s announcement is a culmination of many weeks of work to mitigate the impact of the flood on the Resort property,” Chief Floyd said. “Through a remarkable test of endurance, the team at River Spirit has worked every day for the last 24 days to protect and restore the Resort. On behalf of the Muscogee (Creek) Nation’s citizens and National Council members, we offer our sincere appreciation for your long hours and dedication to the property.”

The Muscogee (Creek) Nation invested $600 million to build the River Spirit Casino Resort on its historic land. The first phase opened in 2009 and the final phase of the expansion opened in April 2017. The annual economic impact of the Resort on the greater Tulsa region is approximately $169 million. River Spirit committed to paying employees during the closure and has a bi-monthly payroll of $2.5 million. The Resort employs 1,600 workers, of whom more than one-half are citizens of the Muscogee (Creek) Nation. Margaritaville Corporation and Ruth’s Chris Restaurant employs an additional 200 workers.

“Taking care of our employees remains a top priority. I am proud so many employees offered to come back and do anything to be of assistance and also volunteered to help other flood victims across the region. It is testament to a great employee force ingrained in the community,” Chief Floyd said.

Resort officials originally anticipated being closed through the month of June, but modified the date to reopen on Friday, June 21 after a full assessment of the property was complete. Representatives from Wallace Engineering completed a thorough review of the structural condition of the buildings and public areas on the property after the river had receded from its high point.

“As expected, the results from Wallace Engineering confirms our building design withstood the flood waters and is as structurally sound now as when we opened it two years ago,” Crofts said.

Construction of the Resort hotel tower and expanded gaming and restaurants were built utilizing 675 heavily- reinforced concrete piers, eight feet in diameter that are 80 to 87 feet below the ground and socketed to the bedrock at an elevation level of 588. Additionally, the Resort complex is further protected from land erosion due to the one-inch thick, solid steel sheet piling surrounding the river side of the property from the hotel tower to the theater. The sheet piling begins at the elevation level of 614 and protects the land all the way to the bedrock elevation level of 588.

As water from the Arkansas River began to surround the property it was necessary to proactively shut down the power supply as the vaults containing the utilities are located underground. Prior to losing the power, hotel guests, visitors and non-critical employees were vacated from the property to ensure their safety. More than 3,600 machines were powered down individually and a security detail surrounding the property put in place.

“Closing down a facility of this size within only hours of the increased water release was extremely complex. Which means it has been equally complex to reopen,” Crofts said. “What we had months to prepare for two years ago we are now working to do within days.”

As a preventative measure, the first action during the flood was to condition the air and prevent humidity from accumulating inside the Resort.

“Within 48 hours of closing, we had maintenance crews working around the clock to safeguard the air quality and ensure no moisture entered the 1.8 million square feet of the 27-story hotel, restaurants, casinos and theater. This investment of time and equipment was successful as we have no impact in these areas,” Crofts said. “More than 400 restoration workers have been working three shifts per day to prepare for our reopening.”

The areas primarily impacted by the flood waters are on the ground level of the Resort. Restoration work includes cleaning the asphalt and concrete on all parking lots and parking structures. Additionally, the lowest elevation of the Resort, which contains the loading docks, storage area and mechanical management, are undergoing thorough remediation. In order to maintain the Resort’s pristine condition, operations has taken advantage of the time to perform extensive cleaning in all 483 hotel rooms, casinos and restaurants during the closure of a property normally open 24 hours a day.

“There are some hotel amenities, such as the spa and fitness center, that will reopen in phases as we work to revitalize those areas,” Crofts said. “We estimate the resort pool will reopen in late July as soon as the outdoor Land Shark Landing Bar and Tiki Bar dining are prepared to serve guests again.”

Following today’s announcement, the Resort hotel is prepared to begin taking reservations for room nights beginning Friday, June 21 and Ruth’s Chris Steak House is also available for dinner reservations.

The previously announced comedy show by Rodney Carrington will proceed as scheduled on Saturday, June 29 at 8 pm.

“Some comedic relief will be welcome, but it is even more meaningful when delivered by one of our own homegrown stars like Rodney Carrington,” Crofts said. “The timing could not be more perfect after the tumultuous weeks we have all experienced in Tulsa.”