The Seneca Niagara Casino and Hotel is marking it's tenth anniversary in the City of Niagara Falls this month, as state and Seneca officials continue to battle over millions in casino revenue. YNN's Meg Rossman takes a look back at the at its first days and what's bringing Seneca and city officials together despite their dispute.
NIAGARA FALLS, N.Y. — It's the most visible structure on the city's skyline and it's marking its 10th year in Niagara Falls.
"Ten years went by in an instant," Seneca Gaming Corporation CEO Cathy Walker said.
Built in 100 days, the $100 million casino was followed up by a 604-room hotel in 2004. It sees thousands enter its doors every year, but at the time city leaders were skeptical.
"Pardon the bad pun here, but they were willing to roll the dice on the casino hoping it would break the log jam of economic development, even though they were very uncertain about how it would operate," Niagara Falls Mayor Paul Dyster said.
It was also met with opposition by residents concerned the powerhouse would take away from local business.
"In the last year, we've spent $45 million with vendors between Buffalo and Rochester," Walker explained.
Dyster said the city has seen several benefits since the gaming corporation moved in; first and foremost, through job creation.
"If you have an entity out there that employs 3,000 people in your community, that's a very, very significant employer."
One who's been working on revamping internally and externally.
Over the past two years, millions have been spent on room renovations and a brand new Thunder Falls Buffet.
But Walker said outreach beyond the 26 story structure is key.
"When a community comes together, we can all do better as a group than as individuals," she said.
Ironically, both say that despite an ongoing dispute between the state and Seneca Nation over casino revenue and the threat of state-run gaming, relations between the gaming corporation and the city, who is essentially caught in the middle, are better than ever.
We'll have more on the casino and the effect the revenue dispute is having on the City of Niagara Falls Thursday on YNN.