YONKERS N.Y. - A bar with 100 draft beers, tables with self-pouring taps, two vintage bowling lanes and more than 600 new machines, are just a few of the new additions gracing Yonkers' casino.
Empire City Casino at Yonkers Raceway is nearly complete with its $50 million expansion that began in July 2011. The 66,000-square-foot expansion was designed by Studio V Architecture , and includes a 300-foot curved glass wall over 45 feet high, a 30,000-square-foot gaming floor and two new restaurants.
The expansion has created more than 100 construction jobs, and ultimately 200 permanent restaurant jobs when work is complete. The expansion has also accommodated 681 addtional gaming machines, bringing the casino's total to 5,380.
When the casino opened six years ago the space was already crowded, said Empire City Casino General Counsel Tim Rooney Jr., so all along the plan was to expand.
"When you think of casinos, you think of dark and dull, which is exactly why we wanted to go in the exact opposite direction," said Rooney. "The glass entrance was created to invoke a great sense of arrival for our customers. The new look will bring the people in, and the new amenities will keep them in."
The new interior decor features a giant contemporary art piece depicting New York City's skyline. The design was created from polycarbonate panels and hundreds of thousands of copper, brass and stainless steel nails.
Jay Valgora, the founder of STUDIO V, led the design.
"At Empire City Casino, we set out to re-invent the modern casino," he said. "Our design features a four-story high arc of frameless glass to project the energy of the casino onto the building exterior, while bringing the drama of the landscape and architecture into the gaming hall."
In addition to the new restaurants, there will be a two-lane bowling alley to step up entrainment at the casino, said General Manager Brian Ingram.
"The first restaurant, Dan Rooney’s, will be like a traditional Irish pub, and will have 40 televisions, betting stations and iPad ordering stations, said Ingram. "The other, Pinch, will be a take on a classic premium diner and will serve everything from sushi to burgers. It will offer 100 tap beers from breweries throughout New York, and tables will feature taps so people can pour their own beer."
It's because of the casino's many features that it will attract more than 25,000 people on a Saturday night, said Rooney
"While most of our games are penny machines, we're almost done with our VIP section that's exclusively for high betting," said Rooney. "We truly want to do everything to become the desired destination spot. We're only 15 minutes away from Times Square, and we feel that these changes will help us tap into the countless millions of people that aren't too far away."