TERRE HAUTE, Ind. (WTWO/WAWV) — Shovel met dirt Tuesday morning on the east side of Terre Haute as Churchill Downs broke ground on the Queen of Terre Haute Casino Resort.

Newly named General Manager for the property Mike Rich said the opportunity will provide a hospitality and tourism destination for the region.

“This is going to be an amazing project for the city of Terre Haute and the entire Wabash Valley area,” Rich said. “We’re bringing what is going to be a very unique offering from a tourism standpoint, a 10-floor hotel, over five restaurants. It’s going to be something very unique, something very upscale, and we’re excited to bring the offering to Terre Haute.”

Rich said he’s prioritizing the relationships with local leaders that will come from this first Churchill Downs endeavor in the Hoosier state.

“I’m so excited to start a year and a half early to being that process partnering with the community, meeting with local legislators and local business leaders,” Rich said.

Those involved with the project from the initial legislative talks years ago, like Senator Jon Ford, said the community will greatly benefit from the casino funds.

“Revenue that we’re gonna get in the form of taxes,” Ford said. “We will use it for economic development, quality of life. It’s never really been about the gaming, it’s been about the extra revenue that we can use to match grants, to do art, to continue to build what our community wants.”

Here are some photos from the groundbreaking event.

Churchill Downs reps said the plan is to build the casino resort in 18 months, and acknowledged that this is no easy feat with current economic conditions. The company said it’s dedicated to delivering to the Terre Haute community as soon as possible.