Plans for two new Navajo casinos go forward

Courtesy photo<br /><br /><!-- 1upcrlf2 -->From left to right, back row: Steve McSloy (Hughes Hubbard and Reed LLP), Doug Goe (Orrick, Herrington and Sutcliffe LLP), Derrick Watchman (NNGE), Controller Mark Grant, Allen Pomerantz (Orrick, Herrington and Sutcliffe LLP), Steve Erickson (Financial Advisor to Investment Committee), Adam Parker and Robert Willie (Office of the Controller). Front row: Mary West (NNGE), Michelle Dotson (OPVP Legal Counsel), Ethel Billie Branch (Orrick, Herrington and Sutcliffe LLP), President Shirley (seated), CEO Robert Winter (NNGE), Marcelino Gomez (Assistant Attorney General, Navajo Nation) and Raymond Etcitty (NNGE Legal Counsel).

Courtesy photo<br /><br /><!-- 1upcrlf2 -->From left to right, back row: Steve McSloy (Hughes Hubbard and Reed LLP), Doug Goe (Orrick, Herrington and Sutcliffe LLP), Derrick Watchman (NNGE), Controller Mark Grant, Allen Pomerantz (Orrick, Herrington and Sutcliffe LLP), Steve Erickson (Financial Advisor to Investment Committee), Adam Parker and Robert Willie (Office of the Controller). Front row: Mary West (NNGE), Michelle Dotson (OPVP Legal Counsel), Ethel Billie Branch (Orrick, Herrington and Sutcliffe LLP), President Shirley (seated), CEO Robert Winter (NNGE), Marcelino Gomez (Assistant Attorney General, Navajo Nation) and Raymond Etcitty (NNGE Legal Counsel).

WINDOW ROCK, Ariz. - Navajo Nation President Joe Shirley Jr., Navajo Nation Controller Mark Grant and Navajo Nation Gaming Enterprise (NNGE) CEO Robert Winter signed documents on Thursday for a $5.3 million loan to build new casinos in Tse Daa K'aan (Hogback), N.M. and Chinle, Ariz.

"This is a historical moment for the Nation," President Shirley said.

About $3.3 million will go toward the development of the Tse' Daa K'aan casino, which is expected to open in October, said Ethel Billie Branch, an attorney for Orrick, Herrington and Sutcliffe, LLP, who helped prepare the documents.

The remaining $2 million will fund the Chinle casino, which is expected to open by year's end.

"This represents a culmination of a year-long effort," Navajo Nation Controller Mark Grant said.

These loans are considered to be the first of five for projected casino development. Other sites for casinos include Upper Fruitland, N.M., Twin Arrows, Ariz., and Pinto Road along Interstate 40 between Sanders and Holbrook, said Adam Parker of the Navajo Nation Controller's Office.

President Shirley also signed documents that would that would extend the loan the Navajo Nation initially put up for the Fire Rock Casino located in Church Rock, N.M. The loan was refinanced to allow funds from the Fire Rock Casino to be allocated for the casino in Upper Fruitland, N.M.

The casino at Twin Arrows is projected to be open by March 2012. Twin Arrows is located along Interstate 40, approximately 24 miles east of Flagstaff.

"We are excited that we are moving forward," said NNGE Chief Financial Officer Derrick Watchman.

The projected casinos are expected to provide jobs, economic development, infrastructure and entertainment in the surrounding areas.

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