Thursday, Feb. 4, 1999 | 10:50 a.m.
If you walk through Texas Station today, you might not notice there's a major expansion under way.
You'll see the standard mid-day local's casino sights: people hunkered over slot machines, a few at the tables, more in line for the buffet.
But you might also notice a guy working a buzz saw in the middle of a new bar next to the race and sports book. Or guys in hard hats and work boots passing to and fro at that end of the casino.
For the truly curious who poke their heads through the plastic screen at the far end of the casino, there is quite a site: a whole new casino recedes into the dusty gloom. Workers on lifts make last-minute adjustments to ceiling lights and wall trim. New slot machines sit covered in plastic, ready to do their part for Texas Station's bottom line.
Over the din of construction equipment Wednesday, one curious passerby could be heard asking an official: "This is really going to be open in a couple days?"
"Yes sir," replied Kevin Kelley, Texas Station's president and general manager.
While it may not look like it, next Tuesday at 10 a.m. Texas Station will nearly double in size. The hotel-casino is adding nearly 120,000 square feet of public space, bringing its total size up to 270,000 square feet.
"We're almost doubling our capacity," said Kelley.
New amenities include 850 slots, a food court, a child-care center and six more movie screens.
Texas Station will kick off the re-opening with a ribbon-cutting ceremony Tuesday. On Friday, Feb. 12, the resort will hold an indoor fireworks display. On Saturday, Feb. 13, it will hold an outdoor fireworks display. And Sunday, Feb. 14 -- Valentine's Day -- every woman who enters the property between noon and 8 p.m. will receive chocolate-dipped strawberries, champagne and a carnation.
To make sure Texas Station is ready for the festivities, work is continuing 24 hours a day, said Kelley.
Yet despite the size of the expansion, the project has been practically eclipsed by the four mega-resorts under construction on the Strip, he said.
"This is the only place in Las Vegas where a $55 million expansion is on the back page," said Kelley. "It's sort of amazing."
But the new Texas Station is real, and it's almost here.
Kelley said the decision to expand was driven by growth in Northwest Las Vegas.
"We found ourselves with a capacity problem, we didn't have enough," said Kelley. "At Texas Station we were missing a few pieces."
Parents had no place to leave their kids while gambling, and parking was a problem, he said. There was a demand for more slots and more food alternatives, and there was a shortage of nice places in North Las Vegas to have a drink, he said.
So Texas Station is responding by building a 10,000-square-foot Kid's Quest child care center -- an amenity that has been very successful at the Boulder and Sunset Station hotel-casinos. For $5.25 an hour, parents can leave their kids to play -- under full supervision.
"It's a place people can take their kids guilt-free," said Kelley.
The resort has also added a 2,400-space parking garage, two floors of which are open now. The garage is connected to the new casino area by elevator.
"Convenient parking has always been a serious issue here," said Kelley.
An 8,200 square-foot food court has been added, including outlets of Baja Fresh Mexican Grill, Fatburger, Krispy Kreme Doughnuts, Sbarro Italian eatery, Swenson's Ice Cream, Wetzel's Pretzels and Hot Dog on a Stick. And six new movie screens are being built.
Texas Station's existing 12 movie theaters -- closed since last month because of the expansion -- will reopen Tuesday. The six new screens will open later in the month.
"We'll have the largest cineplex in the state of Nevada at Texas Station," said Kelley.
On the gambling side, 850 new slots are being added, and 4,400 square feet have already been added to the race and sports book. And to provide a new source for libations, Texas is adding a 70-seat Martini Ranch bar in the center of the new casino space.
As Northwest Las Vegas expands, demand grows for quality entertainment, said Kelley.
"Why are we doing it? Because there's demand for it," said Kelley.
David Wolfe, a gaming analyst at CIBC Oppenheimer in New York, said the Northwest Las Vegas market has been surprisingly strong. And the competition for that market between the Santa Fe, Fiesta and Texas Station hotel-casinos has been fierce, he said.
"You had better competition than you would originally have thought," said Wolfe.
By expanding, Texas Station will likely attract some customers who normally spend their time at the Fiesta or Santa Fe, he said.
"A perceived new product can help capture new customers," said Wolfe. "I think this'll help distance them from other properties."
The new amenities at Texas Station flow from Station Casinos' experience with the Sunset, Boulder and Palace Stations, he said.
"They really have a sense for what the customer wants," said Wolfe. "The amenities are a necessity."