Peninsula Gaming announced Wednesday site preparation has begun on its $280 million casino and entertainment center in south-central Kansas.
Included in that announcement is a nugget of interest to those planning a new Harvey County Fairgrounds and expo center at the intersection of South Kansas and Southeast 36th.
 Included in the plans for The Kansas Star Casino and Entertainment Center, which will span 170 acres in Sumner County, is  a 100,000 square foot indoor equestrian arena.
“We have done a little bit of looking into that, but we don’t have a way of determining just how it will affect us,” said county administrator John Waltner. “We know it will be a large facility and have far more seating than we would. They will have more room for horses and horse shows.”
Hosting equestrian events was part of the driving force behind planning a new fairgrounds for Harvey County, in addition to the current location being cut in half by First Street.
The casino represents very real competition for booking events other than the Harvey County fair.
“It very clearly would be competition, in my mind, for some things,” Waltner said. There are other events that if we can build our facility the way we anticipate it, that it would not be. We would fit another niche in the market.”
The inclusion of an equestrian center at the casino should not, according to Waltner, put a halt to Harvey County’s planned fairgrounds.
“I don’t think anyone is saying that at this point, but we are aware of the proposed facility,” Waltner said. “What could happen is it could increase the interest in facilities in this area. It is possible that it will be plus, but it might not be. That is something we will have to wrestle with over the next couple months.”
Peninsula Gaming will open an interim gaming facility in early 2012 with the permanent gaming facility and 150-room hotel completed in January 2013. Peninsula Gaming plans to expand the facility again in January 2015 with an additional 150 hotel rooms and additional gaming facilities.