Shelley Ozeroff thought her parents were too eager about getting to Chances Maple Ridge Wednesday evening for the grand opening of the new gaming centre.
Her parents were ready by 3:30 p.m. and the public opening was at 5 p.m. When Ozeroff suggested they wait, her mom, Joan Boardman convinced her to leave early.
“We stood in line for maybe an hour and 15 minutes,” Ozeroff said.
She received a hint of what was to come by staff at Chances. They told her it would be worth her while to stay at the front of the line.
At the stroke of five, Ozeroff was invited to help cut the ribbon and the public welcomed in.
For being first and for her efforts, Ozeroff received a gift basket and another “rocking” gift.
“I got a guitar and two tickets to Hedley,” Ozeroff excitedly told The TIMES.
She also won a night out on the town in Maple Ridge and “a few other goodies.”
“I just can’t believe it,” the Coquitlam resident said, admitting she’d be back to Chances again soon because her parents live in Maple Ridge. Given her great first impression, in fact, it may become a favourite outing for the family.
Guests Wednesday afternoon seemed anxious to check out Great Canadian Gaming Corporation’s newest facility.
There were at least a few hundred people lined up outside prior to the grand opening, waiting for the chance to be among the first to view the gaming centre.
Maple Ridge Mayor Ernie Daykin, who was among those on hand for the ceremonial ribbon cutting, said he was astonished to see an estimated 300 in line.
“It’s gorgeous,” Daykin said, once inside. “They’ve exceeded my expectations. It’s really well done,” he said of the architecture and decor, liking small efforts made to honour this town’s heritage.
Daykin was also excited to hear of additional jobs created by the centre, understanding as many as possible of the 50 staff from the 224th Street bingo hall were moved over, then more were hired, bringing the projected total to about 90 staff for Chances Maple Ridge.
He described it as a complement to The ACT, providing another entertainment venue in town that keeps people from having to drive into Vancouver.
“It’s a form of entertainment people are looking for and obviously want,” Daykin said, admitting he won’t be found gambling in the centre, but might be a regular for lunch, make use of the rooms available to community groups, and catch some of the live shows.
“We’re growing up,” he said, noting that the new gaming facility at Lougheed Highway and 227th Street was under construction for almost a year, and with its completion has literally shifted the downtown “a little further east.”
As for the future of the now empty BingoPlex, Daykin said he’s a little concerned that he hasn’t heard of any plans for new tenants or redevelopment of the one-acre site at 119th Avenue and 224th Street.
“I hope it’s not empty for a long period of time,” he said, before shifting back to discussions about Chances.
He was impressed by some of the extra efforts made during the grand opening, including Great Canadian Gaming Corp.’s attempts to recognize the former BingoPlex association, and its staff and members’ 27-year dedication to local charities.
He was also excited to see the the corporation donate $5,000 to the Ridge Meadows Community Hospital Foundation and $400 to the Friends In Need Food Bank during Wednesday’s fanfare.
That’s key to the new facility, said Andy LaCroix, general manager of Chances Maple Ridge.
This new gaming centre is not a casino, he explained, emphasizing that as a smaller sized venue, its focus is on the community.
“These community gaming centres are meant to help support the community,” LaCroix said.
LaCroix was pleased with the opening and said the support from the community has continued since its opening last Wednesday.
Like the mayor, he is especially happy with the ambiance of the new gaming centre.
“It’s very warm and cozy – it’s very state of the art,” he said.
He described the newly constructed, multi-million dollar entertainment facility as a “vibrant and thrilling entertainment venue” that offers a variety of slot machines, 200 bingo seats (electronic and paper), a total of 220 parking stalls and “a truly distinctive bar-restaurant with a contemporary and laid-back atmosphere called The Well.”
There have been very few glitches, LaCroix said, for example, the sign wasn’t working properly, but otherwise the opening has been a success.
But some people’s habits are slower to change, and a few have shown up at the old bingo hall on 224th Street.
All that aside, he said: “We are excited to open Chances Maple Ridge and offer our guests a diverse and memorable entertainment experience.”
Following Wednesday’s ceremony, tribute band Atlantic Crossing took to the stage and performed classic covers followed by a dueling pianos performance.
In addition, a caricature artist, magician and show girls entertained guests. And a commemorative Chances Maple Ridge gift was given to the first 100 guests.
More information is available at www.chancesmapleridge.com.
@ Copyright 2013