Movie theater demolished to make room for new casino in Tucson

Published: Feb. 20, 2023 at 5:47 PM MST|Updated: Feb. 20, 2023 at 5:49 PM MST
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TUCSON, Ariz. (13 News) - Southern Arizona is one step closer to a new casino.

On Monday, crews began demolition on the abandoned Century Park Movie Theater, which is located near Grant and Interstate 10.

The property is owned by the Pascua Yaqui Tribe and was brought into trust by Congress in December.

That move cleared the way for new construction.

Tearing down the movie theater is just the first step toward investing in the Old Pascua land and the Tucson community.

″Today is a super, super blessed day that we get to do this and turn a new chapter,” remarked Peter Yucupicio, Chairman of the Pascua Yaqui Tribe, as the walls of the old theater came tumbling down.

Monday’s demolition is part of a plan that’s been in the works for years.

Now that the 40 acres of Old Pascua land has been reacquired, it’s up to the Pascua Yaqui people to decide what happens here next. A new casino is already in the works.

“The theater will become, not as big as our other casino, but a casino with a hotel and a conference room and then from there the revenue will be shared throughout the community to beautify a lot of things, improve homes, send members to universities and better health,” Yucupicio said.

The Tribal Council says 12% of the revenue from the casino will go back into the City of Tucson and the whole Tucson community. Yucupicio said they’re expecting to bring in 800-900 jobs.

″The goal is to beautify everything around us, extend our arms, and provide jobs,” Yucupicio said. “Provide for all members of the southern Arizona community, not just Yaqui, but you know, at the other casino, we employ a 60-40 mix and 60 is nontribal.”

These jobs at the new casino will be the base of an exponential economic impact for the whole city.

“It’s such a significant day, and by the way, it will continue being an economic hub creating hundreds of jobs,” said Tucson Mayor Regina Romero, who’s been partnering with the tribe for years to bring this to fruition.

The growth won’t stop here. With the land brought into trust by Congress, the possibilities for the Old Pascua Land are endless.

″It’s up to the Pascua Yaqui people, whatever they want to see, and I will be supportive,” Romero said.

Construction will be done in phases over the next couple of years. Once the casino is up and running it will be Tucson’s fifth and most centralized casino.