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DETROIT-Midnight marks a new milestone for the City of Detroit, as the first permanent resort-style casino opens tonight, the $800-million MGM Detroit. The entirely new facility, about a block north of its temporary facility, features a 400-room hotel, 100,000 sf of gaming space, three Wolfgang Puck restaurants, a handful of nightclubs, a 20,000-sf spa and 30,000 sf of meeting space on 25 acres just west of Downtown.

The company owns one of three casinos in Detroit. All three, including MotorCity Casino and Greektown Casino, have operated out of temporary facilities, as they planned permanent casinos with 400-room hotels in each one. The casinos were supposed to be built along the Detroit River, east of the Renaissance Center, but the $1.2-billion plan fell apart when the city couldn’t acquire enough land.

Now, MGM Detroit is the first of the three to get its permanent facility open, with the other two still operating out of their temporary facilities. MotorCity is due to open its facility next month, and Greektown plans its opening next year. However, the MGM property almost didn’t open this week, as the state narrowly avoided a shut-down due to its budget crisis. A judge ruled that the casinos could stay open even if state regulators were laid-off, but the possible closure became moot as Michigan lawmakers made a deal to help balance the budget early Monday morning.

John Hutar, VP for hotel operations at the new property, says it’s nice to be the first resort to open, and that the planned 1,200 total new hotel rooms from the casinos should provide a boost to the city. “We’ve been having conversations with the Detroit Metro Convention Bureau, and we’re now in position to attract groups and conferences that previously wouldn’t fit here,” Hutar tells GlobeSt.com about the traditional shortage of quality hotel rooms in the City of Detroit. City officials have discussed adding at least 30,000 sf to the 700,000-sf Cobo Hall Convention Center. “When a company like MGM makes such an investment here, that gives developers some encouragement to come in with more renovation in the city.” He said the temporary facility has been vacated, but did not say what is happening to the property.

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