The future shape of gambling in Sonoma County gained greater detail Monday as Station Casinos released the first official drawings of the enormous Indian casino under construction outside Rohnert Park.
Sonoma County supervisors Tuesday unanimously approved a multimillion-dollar revenue-sharing agreement with the tribe that is building a casino next to Rohnert Park. ‘What we have before us is certainly a really good outcome of negotiations for the county,’ said Supervisor David Rabbitt, whose 2nd District includes the 254-acre Wilfred Avenue casino site.
The tribe building a casino in Rohnert Park has agreed to pay at least $9 million annually to Sonoma County to offset the impacts of the project, plus up to $38 million more a year if its revenues hit projections.
The payments from the Federated Indians of Graton Rancheria, some of which would start this year, are nearly four times what the county previously estimated it would get.
And they are separate from those laid out in a 2003 agreement between the tribe and Rohnert Park, under which the tribe is to pay the city about $200 million over 20 years.
‘Without a doubt, I think it’s the best agreement that’s ever happened between a tribe and a local government,’ said Shirlee Zane, chairwoman of the county Board of Supervisors. She lauded the tribe for its participation.
The Rohnert Park City Council acted quickly Tuesday to approve an agreement under which the Federated Indians of Graton Rancheria will pay the full cost of widening Wilfred Avenue. ‘We will be moving to expedite this project, it’s in the community’s best interest,’ Mayor Jake Mackenzie said following the 4-0 vote. Vice-Mayor Pam Stafford was absent.
An $850 million financing package, said to be the largest in the history of Native American gaming, is now secured, the Las Vegas-based backer of the casino next to Rohnert Park announced Wednesday. The package will pay for the Federated Indians of Graton Rancheria’s 3,000-slot-machine casino and resort on Wilfred Avenue, according to Station Casinos, which will manage the facility.
The tribe building a Las Vegas-style casino next to Rohnert Park is seeking $800 million in financing, according to Standard & Poor’s, which has given the tribe’s bonds a higher-risk credit rating. That’s the largest sum yet stated for the Federated Indians of Graton Rancheria project on Wilfred Avenue — one of Sonoma County’s largest-ever developments.
Foes of an Indian casino on which work has started next to Rohnert Park have challenged the legality of a 2003 revenue-sharing agreement between the city and the Federated Indians of Graton Rancheria.
Nine years after the Federated Indians of Graton Rancheria announced plans to open a casino in Sonoma County, inciting opposition and controversy, the tribe has cleared its last governmental hurdle. In a quiet milestone, the federal government Friday let an agreement between the state and the tribe, known as a compact, take effect by acting neither to reject or approve it. The compact allows the tribe to operate a Las Vegas-style casino with slot machines and banking card games.
Foes of the casino proposed on Rohnert Park’s northwest boundary have been energized by a U.S. Supreme Court decision that creates new legal avenues for them to attempt to derail the project. The decision in Match-E-Be-Nash-She-Wish Band of Pottawatomi Indians v. Patchak affirmed a Michigan man’s right to sue the federal government over its decision to take land into trust for a tribe that planned a casino there. The Monday ruling also changed from 30 days to 6 years the length of time available to people to sue the government about such decisions. The Secretary of the Interior took the Graton Rancheria property into trust in 2010.
A hearing Tuesday night into the impacts of the Indian casino planned outside Rohnert Park recalled the passions that roiled Sonoma County from 2003 to 2008, before lawsuits, environmental studies and the economy’s slide slowed a project that now appears close to fruition.