August 23, 2006--Posted at 6:25 p.m. CDT
WEST MEMPHIS, AR--Expanded gambling in Arkansas is just months away as the Southland Greyhound Park nears completion of a new expansion. New look and new name. The Southland Greyhound Park is now just "Southland Park." While they are dropping greyhounds from the name, the dog racing will still be a major part of the park. It's a 40 million dollar overhaul they hope will make them more competitive in the race for area entertainment dollars.
"Gaming is a part of it, but we are making a full entertainment center," said Southland Park president Barry Baldwin.
In addition to expanded gambling with games of skill, the park expansion will include a nightclub and 3 restaurants.
"We know games of skill don't compete with slot machines, so we know this isn't a Tunica. But what we are trying to do is bring Southland back to it's glory years before Tunica," said Baldwin.
Southland Park aren't the only ones who stand to gain from the 40 million dollar expansion. The park plans to add 250 jobs that should be a major plus for the local economy.
"The average pay when it is all said and done will be around 30,000 dollars a job," said Baldwin.
With 250 new jobs will come 7 million dollars in new payroll, money that park employees will spend in the area. In addition, Baldwin believes the new attractions will bring in additional revenue that will help the state.
"Everybody is going to benefit. According to the law one half of one percent of revenues will go to Crittenden County, one and a half percent will go to the city of West Memphis and 18 percent will go to the state of Arkansas," said Baldwin.
The parks target date for a soft opening is sometime in November, a date they hope doesn't come down to a photo finish.