Twenty years ago Turning Stone was essentially a bingo hall but today the Oneida Nation claims it's the fifth largest employer in Central New York. The sprawling complex has nine restaurants, two spas, multiple hotels, Lava nightclub and a showroom for concerts. The Oneida Nation has also started construction on three new music themed clubs next door to Lava.
"It's not going to be something you've seen around here. I think that's the whole idea is for us to bring things that don't exist here. Things you might find in Vegas or other metropolitan areas," said Lava Director of Operations Jerry Marrello.
A country-western club is being built inside a what will look like a barn. That venue will be able to hold three to four hundred people. There will also be a club designed to look like a 60's rock music venue and and a piano bar. All of the clubs will be housed in an entertainment facility called Exit 33.
On Monday, Monica Jaquays went to a job fair at Turning Stone. She's hoping to work as an event promotions manager for Exit 33 and she's also looking forward to relaxing at the new venues.
"A lot of excitement for people because a lot of people around Utica are always complaining about how there's nothing to do," said Jaquays.
The Oneida Nation is hiring for 150 new jobs at Exit 33. Karen Castle has lived in Central New York her whole life but made her first trip to Turning Stone on Monday for the job fair. She was never interested in gambling - but likes the idea of a piano bar. Castle said she was impressed by all the non-gambling entertainment options she saw.
"It's a new experience and it would be nice to get together with a few friends for a good time," said Castle.
Building four big city style nightclubs in Verona New York may sound like a risky bet - but so did the idea of building five golf courses or a massive luxury hotel.
"They've shown time and again that they can take things that some people would say can never work here and make them a success," said Oneida nation Vice President of Human Resources Dana Sovocool.
All three new clubs in Exit 33 are on track to open this July.