Iowa’s Q Casino announces multi-phase $75M+ renovation and expansion

Iowa’s Dubuque Racing Association (DRA) has announced plans for a $75 million-plus renovation and expansion of the Q Casino. The DRA Board of Directors voted this week to approve the first phase of the multi-year plan, expected to cost between $75 million and $80 million, which it calls “a key component of a planned redevelopment of Schmitt Island,” the city-owned property where the property is located.

This is an exciting project for Q Casino, DRA and the City of Dubuque, so we look forward to making our presentation to the Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission and getting final approval of our plans,” said Alex Dixon, President & CEO of the DRA and Q Casino. “A lot of effort has gone into getting us to this point, but we have planned carefully and done our homework.”

According to Dixon, the DRA and Q Casino are in “a great position” to begin transforming the old greyhound racing area into usable space, as well as refreshing and enhancing what is offered in the current casino footprint. The new plans come nearly 15 years after the casino property underwent its last significant updates.

The renovation and expansion plans, which have already been approved by the City of Dubuque, will occur in five phases and should be completed during 2025, said the DRA in a statement. The Iowa Racing and Gaming Association will vote on the renovation and expansion proposal during its regularly scheduled meeting in Northwood, Iowa.

Conlon Construction Co. will be the general contractor on the project. Casino officials are working with MidWestOne Bank on financing, which is not dependent on grant funding. In connection with the renovation and expansion announcement, the Dubuque Racing Association shared a list of phase highlights, giving a glimpse of what to expect:

Phase 1 – Temporary Casino: Remodel and connection of the former racing grandstand viewing area with the existing casino floor located in the upper grandstand building to create a temporary casino space.

Phase 2 – Main Casino: Remodel of the existing lower casino and entertainment area, which will include an upgraded center bar with bar-top slot machines.

Phase 3 – Family Entertainment Area: Remodel of the temporary casino space into a permanent family entertainment zone for all ages.

Phase 4 – New Hotel: Construction of a new hotel adjacent to the existing Hilton Garden Inn, complete with a rooftop restaurant.

Phase 5 – Exterior Upgrades: Remodel of facility façade, new outdoor signage and improved landscaping and surface parking.

The project, when completed in 2025, will result in “an entirely remodeled gaming space,” as well as significant space dedicated to new entertainment options and other amenities, officials said. The renovation and expansion of Q Casino are also expected to have a positive impact on the local economy as a result of increased tourism numbers and gaming revenues.

“Q Casino has historically played an integral role in the local economy and consistently made valuable, gaming-related payments to the City of Dubuque. However, just like any business, we must also reinvest in ourselves if we want to grow, especially as new, nearby gaming properties in Wisconsin and Illinois open up,” said Brian Rakestraw, Chief Operating and Finance Officer of the DRA and Q Casino.

“Our plans to refresh and enhance what is offered at the Q is an important investment that fits into a much bigger plan that goes to the heart of who we are as a city, and what we offer both citizens and visitors,” said Dixon, who indicated the start of work on the first phase could begin as early as February 7. “Improvements at the Q are a key part of the plans for Schmitt Island, which will eventually offer even more amenities and features that can be enjoyed by all.”

Schmitt Island redevelopment highlights include a new, outdoor amphitheater, ice arena upgrades, improvements to existing ballfields and enhanced trails and signage throughout the island. Additionally, there will be improved access to the river for water-based activities and recreation, and enhanced spaces for hosting year-round events, among other features.

Stacy Kansky, Chief Commercial Officer of Q Casino, said the upcoming work at the casino is an important step in “a much bigger plan” moving forward. “What we do and accomplish at the Q is the engine that helps drive and fund other future improvements on Schmitt Island, but our casino property renovation and expansion is part of a bigger puzzle,” said Kansky.