Fences are erected at Wildhorse Resort & Casino in preparation for an $85 million expansion project set to be completed in August or September of 2020.

MISSION — The Wildhorse Resort and Casino expansion is still in its early stages, but it’s already experienced its fair share of twists and turns.

According to June 20 press release, Lydig Construction of Kennewick has already erected fences and moved equipment in anticipation of working on Wildhorse’s latest expansion.

In the coming months, Lydig will expand existing features, like the cineplex lobby and children’s entertainment center, and build new ones, like an arcade, food court, and 24-lane bowling alley.

Sometime after that, Lydig intends to move forward with plans to build a second hotel tower and a new events center.

Wildhorse CEO Gary George said Wildhorse’s facilities will stay open during construction, but how customers access the building will change.

The main entrance to the movie theater will be relocated and a walkway rerouted. Construction will close off some parts of the parking lot, but Wildhorse is building a new parking lot south of the cineplex, which is set to open in September and will remain open after construction ends.

The projects are meant to bolster the ascent of the resort and casino, which has helped the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation become the largest employer in the Pendleton area and one of the biggest in Umatilla County.

But the expansion’s original vision was even more ambitious.

When Wildhorse announced its $85 million expansion in 2017, it included a four-screen addition to the cineplex, a parking garage, an outdoor arena, and a 32-lane bowling alley.

But project setbacks forced Willdhorse to either shrink the scope of some features or nix them entirely.

Wildhorse announced in December that it was scaling down the project to keep it within the budget as the price of steel surged.

Additionally, Lydig reported that a widespread shortage of contractors made them more expensive due to their high demand.

But even as Wildhorse has dealt with some obstacles, its expansion continues in other ways.

Already in the midst of renovating its own golf course, the CTUIR announced in May that it had purchased the Pendleton Country Club course. Located south of Pendleton, the course will be operated by Wildhorse staff.

With construction commencing in the area around the cineplex, George said the bowling alley, movie theater improvements, arcade, and entertainment center have an estimated completion date of August or September 2020.

With work starting relatively late in construction season, George is hopeful that they will have the contractors they need to get the project done.

The expected completion of the hotel addition has been pushed out to 2021.

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