Tesuque Pueblo Announces Plan to Build Casino Next to Santa Fe Opera

Posted on: December 22, 2017, 01:00h. 

Last updated on: December 22, 2017, 12:37h.

The Pueblo of Tesuque has announced plans to build a new casino just north of Santa Fe, in a location that would put the resort next door to the Santa Fe Opera, one of the city’s most iconic attractions.

Casino Santa Fe Opera
The view from the opera house is considered a key part of the Sante Fe Opera’s charm. (Image: Ionarts/Charles T. Downey)

The move would give the Tesuque Pueblo a new location to replace their current Camel Rock Casino, which is slated to close next year due to heavy competition from other tribal casinos in the area.

Construction on the new site is expected to begin in January, with the casino potentially opening sometime during the fall of 2018.

“This development will bring fresh energy to our gaming operations with a unique look and modern amenities, all within close proximity to the Santa Fe community,” the pueblo said in a press release.

The casino is planned to include about 750 slot machines along with table games at the time of opening. Future stages of development at the site will include a hotel and other resort amenities.

Concerns Over Impact on Opera Experieince

The building site is currently used for flea markets. But it is more notable for being adjacent to the Santa Fe Opera, a fact that has led to some concern from the opera and its fans about how the new development could impact the theater experience for visitors.

While the Santa Fe Opera is known for its high-quality productions, part of the attraction is the view of the mountains to the north of the city.

According to Santa Fe Opera General Director Charles MacKay, the pueblo is aware of the opera’s concerns in regards to issues like traffic, noise, lighting, and sight lines. MacKay said that while the opera is all for the economic development that the new casino could bring, they’re worried about how a casino could detract from the experience they offer right now.

“The opera does have deep concerns about preserving the unique setting of the opera and all of its attributes,” MacKay said.

Randy Randall, executive director of Sante Fe’s tourism agency, expressed the same concerns, but seemed cautiously optimistic about the project.

“I hope they are sensitive to the opera being there,” he told the Albuquerque Journal. “That can be done if they choose to.”

‘Timeless’ Casino Could Ease Worries

John Kubiak, chairman of the Pueblo of Tesuque Development Corp., said that the pueblo wants to be a good neighbor to the opera house. Building a unique and interesting facility may help ease concerns about how the casino will fit into the area, and according to the pueblo, that’s exactly their plan.

“The Pueblo of Tesuque envisions our new casino will be timeless, inviting, and unlike any other casino in New Mexico,” the tribe said in a press release.

The tribe’s other casino, Camel Rock, has been open for just over two decades at a site about 10 miles north of where their new venue is slated to be built. While Camel Rock was initially successful, the opening of the larger Buffalo Thunder Resort & Casino nearby cut deeply into their revenues.

In 2016, Camel Rock won just $19.4 million from its approximately 500 slot machines, the lowest total in the past 14 years.