Hayden casino group to host 1st forum

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Members of the Sleeping Giant Group are hosting a community meeting to discuss the details of their proposed casino near Yampa Valley Regional Airport.

The meeting is open to the public and begins at 5:30 p.m. Thursday at The Haven Assisted Living Center in Hayden.

Last month the Sleeping Giant Group — which consists of Steamboat Springs residents Steve Hofman and Johnny Spillane, Hayden resident Dave Marin, Hayden developer Stefanus Nijsten, Nijsten’s business partner Bob Zibell, and Steamboat Springs attorney Scott McGill — put into the public arena various casino project documents commissioned by the partnership during the past six months.

A feasibility study, market analysis, artist rendering and site plan are available for public viewing on the partnership’s website, www.sleepinggiantgroup.com.

Thursday’s meeting marks the beginning of the second phase of the project, Hofman said Tuesday.

“Even though this is the first of what we anticipate to be many meetings throughout the Yampa Valley, we hope that people not only from Hayden, but from Craig and Steamboat Springs, are able to attend,” he said. “We think everyone has a stake in this particular project, so it is our desire to hear the voices of the entire valley.”

Among Thursday’s meeting agenda items is an opportunity for the public to meet the members of the Sleeping Giant Group, Hofman said.

There also will be a brief PowerPoint presentation on the highlights from the market analysis conducted by the Innovation Group, a Littleton-based gaming industry consulting firm, and an economic impact study compiled by Yampa Valley Data Partners.

Some of that analysis includes crime statistic comparisons of communities that have embarked on similar casino projects.

“I think people will be somewhat surprised by some of that data,” Hofman said. “The assumptions people make, sometimes for good reason, are not always valid. I’m sure people are interested in learning some of those things.”

Hofman expects a large crowd to attend Thursday armed with a lot of questions to get a “good conversation about the pros and cons of the project” under way.

The meeting will run for however long it takes to answer the public’s questions, Hofman said.

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