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Kansas Star Casino unveils new equestrian, events centers

Tim Lanier, arena director at the Kansas Star, stands inside the new 20,000-square-foot equestrian center. The arena will serve as a warmup arena with 183 permanent horse stalls. (Nov. 18, 2014)
Tim Lanier, arena director at the Kansas Star, stands inside the new 20,000-square-foot equestrian center. The arena will serve as a warmup arena with 183 permanent horse stalls. (Nov. 18, 2014) The Wichita Eagle

Kansas Star Casino on Wednesday unveiled a $20 million expansion project that includes an 11,000-square-foot meeting center and a 183-stall equestrian center that will enable the casino to host large horse shows.

Both facilities are scheduled to open in mid- to late December.

They will complete the casino’s original master plan and bring the total investment in the property by Boyd Gaming and previous operator Peninsula Gaming to $330 million.

The Kansas Star, which opened in a temporary facility in late 2011 and moved into its permanent location in December 2012, also has a 300-room Hampton Inn & Suites and a 42,000-square-foot arena.

The equestrian center was among the prime features considered by the state when it selected a casino manager for the south-central Kansas gaming zone.

The Kansas Star’s arena already can host rodeos. The new outdoor center – a 20,000-square-foot, open-sided facility containing the 183 permanent stalls and a practice arena – will allow the casino to put on a wide variety of horse shows, said Tim Lanier, arena director.

“It adds something Kansas doesn’t have,” said Lanier, who has operated equestrian facilities in Texas and at the South Point casino in Las Vegas. “No other equestrian site in the state is at this level, with a hotel and entertainment on the site. In Oklahoma City, they don’t have what we have because they don’t have a hotel on property, they don’t have the entertainment and restaurants that we have on property.”

“Outside this casino, you have to go to Las Vegas to find the same facilities we do,” he said.

Lanier said he expects the casino to host 10 or 12 equestrian events in 2015, 24 in 2016 and 36 by the third year.

A standard horse show brings 3.1 people per horse to an event, Lanier said, so there could well be more than 500 people attending an event at the Kansas Star.

“It’s tourism we don’t have in the state,” he said.

“Typically people who own horses and are involved with equestrian have discretionary income to travel and do those kinds of things,” Lanier said.

The center can add temporary stalls for larger shows in addition to the 183 permanent stalls, Lanier said. The casino is having talks for a show in August that would require 400 stalls, he said.

The center also will include wash racks and show offices.

The events center will host business meetings, weddings, trade shows, conventions and other events, said Dan Ihm, the Kansas Star’s assistant general manager. It also will offer full-service kitchen and banquet facilities. It is adjacent to the Kansas Star’s arena.

It will include a 10-by-12-foot video wall, a pre-meeting space, three boardrooms and enough space in the ballroom to seat 400 people for meals, Ihm said.

Ihm said the casino already is booking events for the new center.

The Hampton Inn & Suites doubled its original 150 rooms, opening with 300 rooms in August. It is averaging 70 percent of capacity, said Joe Shanks, general manager.

“It is doing a little bit better than we anticipated,” he said.

Reach Fred Mann at 316-268-6310 or fmann@wichitaeagle.com.

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