TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) - It’s a long shot right now, but there may be a new casino on the site of the abandoned Century Theater complex at I-10 and Grant Road.
The Pascua Yaqui Nation bought the 15-acre site in 2011 for $4.5 million, but have never released its plans for the site. It has been rumored it would be a new casino but that has never been confirmed.
“We want to do something that mutually benefits the tribe and the people in the city," said Robert Valencia, the tribal chair.
A casino could not be built on site unless the tribe puts the land in trust, which it will ask the federal government to do.
In the meantime, because it is inside the city limits, it had to reach an Intergovernmental Agreement with the city of Tucson for services, such as police, fire, water, transportation and environmental issues.
“We’re putting the trust on the Pascua Yaqui nation to make the right choices for that community,” said Ward I City Council member Regina Romero. “And that community has been for there for more than a hundred years.”
The city approved the IGA and says it will forward a recommendation to the Interior Department to approve the trust designation.
Still that can take two to five years, so a casino will not appear overnight, if ever.
Valencia says there are several options for the property, which is contiguous to the Old Pascua Village south of Grant Road.
“To say we’re going to do x-business there we’re not ready to do that yet,” Valencia said. “But we’re close.”
Brandon Varela is the new curator of the Old Pascua Museum which sits across the street from the site.
“I think this is just another step in the right direction,” he said. “It hasn’t been a place of prosperity for a long time.”
He believes it will be a job creator.
“You need bodies to run the casino and all that,” he said. “Not only base jobs, but directional duties as well as managerial positions and supervisory positions.”