Posted: Sunday, December 25, 2016 12:00 am, By Rhett Morgan – Tables built in the shape of a pontoon boat sit near the front of the Margaritaville Restaurant in the River Spirit Casino and Resort. The Margaritaville Casino also began operation this year at the Muscogee (Creek) Nation facility.
The Muscogee (Creek) Nation made a splash by the Arkansas River in late summer.
The tribe completed a 1.2 million-square-foot, roughly $365 million expansion of the River Spirit Resort & Casino, creating at least 1,000 new jobs. Included in the enhancements are a new River Spirit entrance, Jimmy Buffet-inspired Margaritaville restaurant and bar, casino, 2,500-seat-plus theater and convention center.
The 483-room hotel, which is 27 stories high, offers breathtaking views of the Arkansas River. The Margaritaville restaurant features a faux volcano that spews lava into a giant blender, as well as a second-level wraparound deck that overlooks the casino.
The Creeks hope it attracts new customers to the market. Statistics provided to the Tulsa World show the casino will have an annual regional economic impact of $135 million.
Last year, an estimated 15 million people ate at one of Buffett’s nearly 70 restaurants or stayed at one of his seven hotels and time-share resorts, according to a recent New York Times story.
“A lot of people, until they come to Tulsa and northeast Oklahoma, they think it’s flatlands and ‘The Grapes of Wrath,’ ” Pat Crofts, CEO of Muscogee (Creek) Nation Casinos, told the Tulsa World this summer. “But once they get here, it kind of sells itself.