SPARKS, NV - Twenty nine years ago, what was then Karl's Silver Club was preparing for its grand opening.
Across the street the Nugget was building its first tower. Owner Karl Berge had big plans as well. Within a year he was talking about a high rise tower. It was not to be.
Instead the Silver Club struggled as the perennial underdog of local casinos and through various ownerships and other plans for expansion,
it eventually went dark, the last time more than four years ago.
But new owner Rick Holland sees opportunity here.
"We're confident that we can be a very positive influence in the market and create some energy, some additional energy and support for the local people."
And if that happens, it will be good news for a downtown where a once aggressive redevelopment effort has stalled in recent years.
"They're making a $2,3,4,5 million dollar investment down here and that speaks well for the future." says Sparks Mayor Geno Martini. "They think the economy is coming back. So that's why they're opening and I think it will spur other businesses to come down here."
Holland, who also owns casinos in Winnemucca, Hawthorne and Elko as well as Colorado, has reportedly spent $5 million dollars to purchase the nine acres of property and give it a New Orleans-themed facelift.
Earlier Thursday as invited guests walked through in hard hats for a first look that transformation was still a work in progress.
To a layman it looked like anything but a casino hours away from opening. Poker machines were still in boxes waiting to be installed in the Blue Gator or B Street Bars. Construction workers were still cutting pieces of plywood. There was debris and equipment strewn everywhere.
Holland and his crew seemed unconcerned.
"We're kind of coming right up to the wire and we're just anxious to get open."
And finally at 6:30, as promised, Holland cut a red ribbon and invited the sizeable crowd gathered to step inside and sample his new buffet free of charge.
Elsewhere they were still working, but live entertainment, the Midnight Riders, was still scheduled to begin at 8 p.m.