Tulalip Tribes Borrow $120 million to build casino and mall
By Linda
The Tulalip Tribes have obtained a $120 million loan to build their new casino fronting Interstate 5 and to pay for infrastructure improvements in the tribe's business park.

The loan was underwritten by a syndicate of banks led by Bank of America and Wells Fargo, said John McCoy, Tulalip executive director of governmental affairs.

In obtaining the loan, the Tulalip join other large Indian casino operators such as the Mohegan Tribe of Connecticut and the Pechanga Band of Luiseño Indians of California that have received such large-scale loans from the banks, said McCoy. The bankers told tribal officials that the loan to Tulalip was the largest such financing package in state history.

McCoy said $72 million is earmarked toward the casino construction project and $48 million will go for a sewer plant, roads, streets and traffic lights in the surrounding Quil Ceda Village business park. The Tulalip also are paying for design and environmental studies to increase the capacity of I-5 exits 200 and 202.

The bulk of the infrastructure funds will go for a state-of-the-art sewage-treatment plant using a membrane filtration system.

The new casino, scheduled to open early next year, anchors the 495-acre business park along with Wal-Mart and Home Depot stores. Quil Ceda also will include a 33,000-square-foot shopping center that will provide space for 18 small-business entrepreneurs.

Quil Ceda is a manifestation of the Tulalips' drive to use casino proceeds to diversify the tribe's economy so that it is no longer dependent on the casino for jobs and revenue, said McCoy.

The Tulalip Tribes also have been seeking legislative approval to cede state sales tax collections within Quil Ceda retail operations to the tribe to pay for essential Tulalip governmental services. And the tribe has incorporated Quil Ceda as a city under tribal law.

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