Casino to semi-break ground

Published 11:19 pm Wednesday, June 11, 2008

NATCHEZ — A ceremonial ground breaking for the Roth Hill Road casino will be in conjunction with the Country Inn and Suites grand opening from 5 to 7 tonight.

Due to river conditions, the assessment of when construction will actually begin won’t be until later this month, Natchez Enterprises President Ted Doody has said.

“We’re still waiting to see what the Mississippi is going to do with the spring thaw,” he said.

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Casino representatives have had conversations with river experts about the river rising again.

The very first leg of the casino construction is shoring up the banks.

“Obviously we can’t do that if the riverbank is under water,” Doody said. “That’s what’s driving our train right now.”

Instead of an actual ground breaking, there will be a project presentation.

“It will be kind of talking some more about the design,” Doody said of the project. “There will be some renderings and explanations of some of the amenities offered as part of the casino.”

For the hotel, when the doors swung open for the first time to allow guests, it was only a soft opening, convention center Director Walter Tipton said.

“With any major project, what you do is have what’s considered a soft opening,” he said. “That gives you time to get the kinks worked out.”

He said scheduling the grand opening took some time because the hotel was booked with big conferences.

“We’re very excited, not only because of the fact that it’s going to be officially opened, but the recent business we’ve booked in the last couple of weeks just reinforces the strategy of having a hotel adjacent to our conference center,” Tipton said.

Recently it was announced that the Mississippi State Medical Association will be having their 2010 conference in Natchez, their first time to convene in the city.

This particular conference is estimated to bring in 200 people.

The Mississippi National Guard will also have a conference in Natchez in 2009.

“Those conferences wouldn’t be interested in Natchez without this infrastructure,” Tipton said.

Though the casino and the hotel aren’t an actual duo and are unrelated entities, Tipton said they’ve paired up for this event because they are basically neighbors.

“The two developments are in close proximity of each other,” he said. “We both are going to sit at the end of Main Street on the banks of the Mississippi River.”

The hotel will also host a Business After Hours through the Natchez-Adams Chamber of Commerce.

Chamber Director Debbie Hudson said the hotel made the request in April and that it’s typical for new businesses to have an after hours as part of their grand opening.

“It’s a great networking time,” Hudson said.

The official cutting of the ribbon will be at 6 p.m. and there will be a small band present for entertainment