NEWPORT, Ky. -- A new 200-seat event center is coming to Newport's Riverboat Row.
BB Riverboats will spend $2 million to retrofit and rebrand the barge, which used to house an Argosy Casino in Sioux City, Iowa. The barge cruised into Covington Wednesday morning, completing a 700-mile journey from an Illinois shipyard, where it had been stored for about four years.
As an event center, the barge will feature an outdoor, wrap-around deck that will offer guests a view of the Cincinnati skyline. It will have a full bar and a new kitchen to serve BB Riverboats' catering operations.
The barge also will house the company's reservations center, executive offices and vessel operations.
At 300 feet long and 54 feet wide, it's three times the size of the company's current facility.
"We've outgrown our existing facility, and with a new generation of our family actively involved in the business, we decided it was time to expand, update, and rebrand our operations to create new excitement and enthusiasm in BB Riverboats," owner Capt. Alan Bernstein said.
The barge was towed from the Illinois shipyard to a temporary construction location in Covington, at the foot of Madison Avenue. The trip took about 10 days.
Fedders Construction will start renovations over the summer, with work expected to last about six months. Then, in January, the barge will be moved to Riverboat Row in Newport.
"There's really been nothing new on the river in years, so this is going to be really exciting," Bernstein said.
Some Covington residents like Nikki Combs stopped along their river walk Wednesday to check out the barge.
"I think it's going to be really cool," Combs said. "I can't wait."