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 MEMPHIS, Tenn., Oct. 13 /PRNewswire/ -- Harrah's today unveiled plans to demolish the Rivergate Convention Center and construct a new 350,000 square foot facility with a 200,000 square foot casino, creating the world's largest casino. In addition, the company announced plans to convert the New Orleans Municipal Auditorium into a 75,000 square foot temporary casino.
 The permanent casino facility will be owned by the partnership consisting of Harrah's, the New Orleans Louisiana Development Corporation and Grand Palais Casino, Inc. A letter of intent outlining terms of a partnership among the three groups was signed today. Harrah's will manage the design, construction and operation of Louisiana's only land-based casino.
 If all governmental approvals are received on a timely basis, the company believes the temporary casino could be open for business by the end of the first quarter of 1994. The permanent casino could open in early 1995.
 Harrah's New Orleans Casino will be constructed in an architectural style complementary to the historical character of New Orleans and the French Quarter, while capturing the excitement of casino entertainment appropriate in the world's largest casino.
 The estimated cost of the new facility, the temporary casino and significant new parking structures is approximately $670 million. The cost also includes almost $165 million in cash payments to the City and State.
 "Our ultimate objective is to build a casino entertainment facility that all New Orleans and Louisiana residents will be proud of and that complements and expands New Orleans' unsurpassed tourist destination reputation," said Michael D. Rose, chairman and chief executive officer of The Promus Companies (NYSE: PRI), Harrah's parent company. "Our immediate objective is to provide an exciting, first-class experience to both New Orleans area residents and visitors from around the world who will come to the temporary casino for their first taste of New Orleans style casino entertainment."
 Harrah's plan, to be submitted to the Louisiana Economic Development and Gaming Corporation (LEDGC), the Rivergate Development Corporation, the lessor of the Rivergate, and the City, calls for the immediate renovation of the Municipal Auditorium. The temporary casino in the Auditorium will operate while the permanent casino is being constructed on the Rivergate site. The 75,000 square foot temporary casino could be constructed and open for business by the end of the first quarter of 1994 with the 200,000 square foot permanent casino, the largest in the world, completed in early 1995.
 "Our projected opening dates are primarily dependent upon timely decisions and approvals on the part of the City and State, and all other regulatory agencies, as well as resolution of litigation affecting the Rivergate site," Rose stated.
 "Harrah's, our partners group and City and State officials have spent the last two months since the license selection by the State for Louisiana's only land-based casino carefully weighing various options for the temporary site and for design for the permanent casino. Today's announcement represents the culmination of those negotiations and a final agreement that everyone involved can be pleased with. With the negotiations behind us, Harrah's looks forward to soon offering citizens and tourists in New Orleans a first class casino entertainment experience and beginning the revenue flow to the State and the City in a timely manner. More than 1,200 construction jobs will be created at both the temporary and permanent casino sites and we will begin hiring the first of what will ultimately be 4,500 employees for Harrah's New Orleans," according to Rose.
 Harrah's restated the key events that must occur prior to beginning construction on the temporary casino or the permanent casino at the Rivergate.
 1. Amend and assign the lease of the Rivergate Convention Center
 and transfer other assets to the new partnership.
 2. Obtain approval of the temporary casino and permanent casino by
 appropriate governing bodies of the City and the Louisiana
 Economic Development and Gaming Corporation (LEDGC).
 3. Obtain a determination of suitability and casino operating
 contract from the LEDGC.
 4. Satisfy other conditions and legal issues pertinent to the
 "The plans and the timetable we are outlining today, we believe, are extremely aggressive, but possible, if the above approvals are received in a timely manner. Any delay in obtaining the required governmental and regulatory approvals does not benefit the State, City or the future customers who are anxiously awaiting the casino here," Rose emphasized.
 Harrah's is the only casino company operating in all five major Nevada and New Jersey casino markets -- Atlantic City, N.J., Lake Tahoe, Laughlin, Las Vegas and Reno, Nev. Harrah's first riverboat casino opened in May 1993 in Joliet, Ill. Additional casino entertainment projects under development include casinos in Vicksburg and Tunica, Miss., North Kansas City and St. Louis (Maryland Heights) Mo., Shreveport, La., Central City, Colo., and on the Ak-Chin Indian Reservation outside of Phoenix.
 Harrah's parent company, Promus, also owns and operates three leading hotel brands: Embassy Suites, Hampton Inn and Homewood Suites hotels.
 -0- 10/13/93
 /CONTACT: Ralph Berry of The Promus Companies, 901-762-8629, or Bob Dowd of Harrah's New Orleans, 504-522-3373/

CO: Harrah's New Orleans; The Promus Companies Incorporated;
 Grand Palais Casino, Inc. ST: Tennessee; Louisiana IN: CNO SU:

MM -- CH010 -- 1710 10/13/93 13:06 EDT
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Publication:PR Newswire
Date:Oct 13, 1993

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