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Overview

Diamond Jo Casino and Dubuque County Historical Society
Announce Major Port Plan

The Port of Dubuque, already transformed by the multi-million dollar Phase I of America’s River Project is poised to undergo a second major renovation. The Diamond Jo Casino in tandem with the Dubuque County Historical Society made a stunning announcement late September outlining plans for what would be a major expansion at the port for both organizations.

In a press conference co-hosted by Brent Stevens, chief executive officer of Peninsula Gaming LLC, parent company of the Diamond Jo, and Jerry Enzler, executive director of the Historical Society, the partnering organizations presented plans for a new casino and an expanded National Mississippi River Museum campus and facilities.

As part of the cooperative plan, a new $50 million Diamond Jo Casino would be constructed along Bell Street, just north of 3rd Street. Upon completion, the former riverboat casino would be donated to the Historical Society, along with use of the Welcome Center and Portside Building, effectively extending the campus of the River Museum along the Ice Harbor riverfront. In exchange, the Historical Society would sell a tract of land to Peninsula for the casino expansion and parking.

The exchange clears the way for Phase II of the America's River Project including the River Museum’s construction of an IMAX-style RiverMax Theater and a second museum complex to be known as the Great Rivers Center. The announced plan marks a change in previous exploratory efforts by the Historical Society to expand the River Museum into the former Adams Company building north of the current museum complex.

The RiverMax Theater, planned for construction to the east of the current museum, would comprise both a 250-seat theater, showcasing both 3-D and 4-D films, and a retail outlet. An estimated $8 million project, the new RiverMax Theater would be the only large-format theater in Dubuque.

The Great Rivers Center (the site of the current Welcome Center and Diamond Jo Portside Building) would feature display galleries, a National Rivers Center, a Rivers Research Center and storefront retail.

In addition to funding by the Diamond Jo, the Historical Society will seek funding for the planned expansion from federal and local grants, private gifts, and a $9 million grant from Vision Iowa, a major contributor toward the original America’s River Project.

The new 35,000-square-foot Diamond Jo Casino would be similar to Peninsula’s barge-style casino which opened last April in Northwood, Iowa. The entertainment complex would include over a thousand slot machines, 17 table games, a poker room, a deluxe 36-lane bowling center and three dining establishments: The Kitchen Buffet, the Farmer's Feast Cafe and an as-yet-unnamed signature restaurant.

The Diamond Jo hopes to begin construction in early 2007, with the casino opening in early 2008. Museum expansion would follow, with a possible completion date in 2010.
The casino and museum expansion complement existing Port of Dubuque amenities including the Grand Harbor Resort and Waterpark, the Grand River Center, and the Alliant Amphitheater. Projects currently under construction or renovation include the Old Brewery building complex and the new McGraw-Hill office building. McGraw-Hill broke ground at the Port this summer and expects to move 700 employees into the new facility by the end of June, 2007.

Both Stevens and Enzler pointed to the planned expansions as positive steps in the continuing development of the Port of Dubuque. "The Diamond Jo's generosity will help the Mississippi River Museum and the surrounding community reach our tremendous potential,” said Enzler, “Our campus will now stretch along banks of the Mississippi which, of course, is the most desirable location for us."

Natalie Schramm, General Manager of the Diamond Jo Casino echoed the enthusiasm for the projects: "This is another great day for Diamond Jo team members, our neighbors and our community. Now we have the complete package; hotel, casino, bowling, waterpark and museum all working together to bring additional visitors to Dubuque."

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America's River Phase 2 Overview Slides

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