ANDERSON — It’s been a long road back to business as usual for Harrah’s Hoosier Park Racing & Casino. But the facility’s new normal will include an additional 38,000 square feet of space devoted to cementing its status as the region’s leading entertainment destination.

Officials with Caesars Entertainment, Hoosier Park’s parent company, expect to break ground on the project later this spring, with a planned timeline of 13 to 15 months before the new space is up and running.

“We’re super excited about this project,” Trent McIntosh, senior vice president and general manager at Hoosier Park, said in November. “The additional restaurant and bar facilities will make Hoosier Park a better entity in Anderson.”

Hoosier Park obtained a special exception from the Anderson Board of Zoning Appeals to move forward with the expansion.

The estimated $34 million project will add 100 slot machines and 25 new table games to the racino’s offerings and, officials hope, inject a fresh sense of excitement after more than two years of uncertainty connected to the COVID-19 pandemic. Less than three months after welcoming table games with live dealers – an addition officials had long sought with the hope of drawing more revenue – the onset of the pandemic forced Hoosier Park to close its doors until June 2020.

Even though many capacity restrictions and health and safety protocols remained throughout most of 2021, McIntosh said revenue from general casino operations and table games began to rebound.

“We walk into ’22 with really a clean slate to have a year without any of the major restrictions in place, and we’ve continued to grow table games, really, since March of ’21,” he said. “It’s been a continually growing piece of the business.

“I do feel like in 2022, we are positioned to have maybe the best year this property’s ever had,” he added.

McIntosh noted that, as health and safety protocols continue to relax, Hoosier Park will begin more aggressively scheduling concerts and other in-person events. Country star Aaron Lewis performed at the Terrace Showroom in February, the racino’s first live concert in nearly two years. Efforts are being made to book concerts on a monthly basis, and the facility’s popular outdoor concert series is poised to return as well. McIntosh said ABBA The Concert and the Temptations are currently scheduled in July and August, respectively.

“Entertainment is a tricky business still, to this moment, but we have gotten back into the entertainment business,” McIntosh said. “We are actively searching for acts to…do basically a monthly, some type of monthly entertainment. It’s just a matter of if we’re able to get acts booked or not.”

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