The five families who own the casino had been set in May 2006 tosell to Columbia Entertainment, a sister company of hotel operatorColumbia Sussex, for $200 million. That deal fell apart, but thefamilies kept on with the new construction, says Casino Queenpresident and part owner Jim Koman, who's also president of localdevelopment firm Koman Properties Inc. The new casino project hadbeen set at $60 million, but some costs ran higher, Koman tellsGlobeSt.com. "They wanted to do a number of different things, suchas increase the size to give us more room," he says. The formerplan called for 207,500 sf.

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He says the other two phases of the $150 million plan wouldinclude the parking deck and an 800-seat amphitheater. However,with groundbreaking set for 7 p.m. central standard time today,there's other things to worry about, he says. "We've been on a fasttrack to get this open, we're just focused on the new facility,making sure customers are happy. We'll see how the revenues go, andproceed from there," Koman says.

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The former riverboat is for sale, Koman says, for $6.5 million."It definitely floats, it has working engines and everything," hesays. The casino is the city's largest employer, with more than1,100 workers.

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