Pinnacle Wants to Build La.'s Biggest Boat

By Hector San Miguel

Pinnacle Entertainment plans to build Louisiana's largest riverboat for its proposed Lake Charles casino if the project is approved in April, according to Pinnacle's president, Paul Alanis.

Alanis made the comments during a news conference Tuesday at the Port of Lake Charles. Standing before a crowded room of elected officials, business people, and union leaders, Alanis said the company was launching its campaign to get Calcasieu Parish (county) voters to support the casino's $225-million project for Lake Charles.

"Everything is moving along smoothly," Alanis said. "We see no roadblocks. We see no impediments to our moving forward but we need the support of the voters of Calcasieu Parish."

A parishwide referendum is being held on April 6 for the Pinnacle project. The company was issued the state's 15th gaming license for the project last year but it cannot build it without voter approval.

Pinnacle wants to build the $225-million casino resort on Port of Lake Charles land north of Interstate 210. It would feature a 20-story hotel, an 18-hole golf course, a pavilion and entertainment hall, a parking garage, and a riverboat casino.

Pinnacle will spend up to $40 million on construction of a one-story riverboat that will be built in Louisiana. The boat will be 422 feet long and 176 feet wide making it the largest riverboat in the state. The boat will have three separate entrances into the casino. They will be from the hotel, pavilion and the parking garage.

At present, the Isle of Capri's Grand Palais riverboat on Lake Charles has reigned as the state's largest boat since it first came here in 1995.

"The market has the potential to be double what it is today but it takes projects like this to grow the market," Alanis said. "with our project and Boyd (slot parlor), believe me it will be more than a $1-billion market in the next three to four years.

Pinnacle hopes to open the casino, if approved, sometime in early 2004. It will take about 15 months to build the facility if approved in April. The project will generate 1,500 permanent jobs and hundreds of construction jobs.