It's official. The groundbreaking for a 39,000-square-foot facility, to be known as Cherokee Casino Grove, is set to take place this spring.

On Wednesday, Jan. 27, Cherokee Nation Entertainment officials announced construction on the facility, set to be located north of Grove on Highway 59, will take place in April.

The casino, which is slated to create 175 new jobs, will be built on a 24-acre site near Highway 59 and East 250 Road, property the tribe purchased in 2013.

“We understand the role our businesses play in the lives of Cherokee Nation citizens and the future of the tribe,” said Cherokee Nation Principal Chief Bill John Baker in the tribe's written announcement. “We are using facilities like this to create good-paying jobs for our citizens, build local economies and provide funding for services to the Cherokee people.

"A look right up the road to Jay, our new health center is a perfect example of how dollars from our businesses impact the lives of citizens in this community.”

Cherokee Casino Grove will be the tribe’s 10th casino location. It will be the tribe's second casino within Delaware county. The Cherokee Casino West Siloam Springs opened in West Siloam Springs, Oklahoma in 1994.

In addition, Cherokee Nation operates Cherokee Casinos in six other communities: Fort Gibson, Ramona, Roland, Sallisaw, South Coffeyville, Tahlequah; a horse gaming facility, Will Rogers Downs, in Claremore; and the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Tulsa. 

Cherokee Casino Grove

Information released by the tribe indicates Cherokee Casino Grove is slated to feature 400 electronic games, a restaurant, a full-service bar, a live music venue, a dance floor and complimentary non-alcoholic drinks.

It will be designed as a "rustic, lodge-style venue" which provides space for "private and community events and an outdoor patio."

An artist rendition of the facility is expected to come at the time of the groundbreaking.

“We have a long history of bringing the best of entertainment to the region,” said Shawn Slaton, chief executive officer of Cherokee Nation Businesses, CNE’s parent company in the company's release. “Our facilities are first class, and our team is top notch. We are committed to offering our guests a superior experience in a safe environment.

"We look forward to working with Delaware County and the community of Grove. Experience has shown our business model is good for local economies, and we’ve been fortunate to develop great relationships throughout various communities.

"We expect to accomplish the same thing here. We are grateful for the support and ready to bring new entertainment options to Grand Lake.”

The region’s entertainment leader employs 4,000 people. The tribe’s minimum wage is $9.50 per hour, well above the federal minimum wage, and the company offers a benefits package to full-time employees. 

In Jay, the CNB operates a laundry facility, which cleans linens from tribal properties, and the Sam Hider Health Center.

Other CNB facilities include three hotels and three golf courses, as well as other business ventures. 

About the land purchase

The formerly undeveloped pasture land is located across Highway 59 from Tom Cat Corner. It was purchased in two transactions on Aug 22 and 23, 2013.

The first transaction transferred the land from Richard Ellis with Lake Country Custom Homes, Inc., to Arrowhead Group, LLC, a Kansas Limited Liability Company. Arrowhead purchased the property for $350,000.

Then on Aug. 23, Arrowhead Group, LLC., transferred the title of the property to Cherokee Nation Entertainment LLC, a Cherokee Nation Limited Liability Company. Records indicate the purchase price was $450,000.

At the time, a tribal spokesperson said CNB purchased the land because the tribe was always on the lookout for prime real estate within the 14 counties that make up the Cherokee Nation.

The land on Highway 59 was attractive, because of its location between I-44 and Grove, as well as being near Grand Lake.