Grand Biloxi Should Open In Mid August

Karen Sock sounded a lot like the head cheerleader for Harrah's Entertainment.

"We're excited to be back. Harrah's Entertainment all the way," she said, raising her hand the way a cheerleader would.

Sock is a lot more than a cheerleader for Harrah's. She's the administrator who will over see the post Katrina rebirth of the Grand Casino Resort in Biloxi.

"It means a lot for us," she said. "It certainly is a public statement of our commitment to this community, to the gulf coast region."

The initial Grand recovery plan is to renovate the property it owns north of Highway 90. A price tag to do that work hasn't been released.

What we do know is the casino will be on shore, "where the old convention space was located," Sock said. "We've expanded all of that area, opened it up completely, and taken part of the pool deck so that we'll be able to operate an offering of slot and table games."

The northside opening in mid August is phase one. Phase two is redeveloping the property Grand owns south of Highway 90. To do that, the resort's theater, its gulfview hotel and its front entrance all have to be demolished.

"Everything is coming down," Sock said.

That work has already started.

Specific plans about Grand's southside property, after the demolition is done, haven't been released yet. When they are, don't be surprised if Karen Sock is leading the cheers again.

"We're very, very committed to working with folks here on the gulf coast as being part of the revitalization of this area," she said with a smile.

For now, Harrah's will continue to use the Grand Casino name in Biloxi.  But down the road, once the larger expansion is done, Sock said a name change to Caesar's or Horseshoe is possible.

"As we finish and broaden the project," she said, "I'm certain that those brand will be evaluated, as obviously the most powerful brands in the business are the one's we like to put on our buildings.  So we'll evaluate howe we move forward for the long term."

Last August, Hurricane Katrina picked up Grand Casino Biloxi's casino barges and slammed them into Tullis Manor, the Biloxi Yacht Club, the Tivoli Hotel and the new Ohr O'Keefe museum campus. Demolition teams are still cutting up the remnants of those barges.