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First look: BB Riverboats transforms old casino barge into new event space on Ohio River

BB Riverboats event center
BB Riverboats
BB Riverboats event space
BB Riverboats event s
BB Riverboats event space
Posted at 3:25 PM, Jun 25, 2019
and last updated 2019-06-26 11:12:14-04

NEWPORT, Ky. — The new home of BB Riverboats is now open along Newport’s Riverboat Row.

The facility, a former casino barge, is a $3.5 million flip that houses River’s Edge — an event space on the Ohio River with enough room for 250 guests.

“It's certainly the biggest investment we've made other than some of our boats,” said BB Riverboats Owner Alan Bernstein.

The barge, which used to house an Argosy Casino in Sioux City, Iowa, was in storage at an Illinois shipyard for four years.

It arrived in Northern Kentucky about one year ago. Since then, it’s been gutted and completely transformed to include an office space, catering kitchen, boat ramps and a deck offering a view of the Cincinnati skyline.

“It's the premier space and as you sit, you've got a full view. The boat's not in the way,” Bernstein said.

BB Riverboats event space

Bernstein told WCPO last year that BB Riverboats outgrew its existing facility.

The company has already hosted a few events at the facility which provides the only private event space located on the Ohio River. And it will not be setting sail.

“Believe it or not, there are people that want to come to an event and not go on a cruise,” said sales director Nancy Willhoite, “so that filled that need.”

This venture is about celebrating the new and the old for Bernstein who said he’d also like the space to include a museum. Local history fills the lobby: photos, ship models and artifacts including a ship wheel from 1922.

BB Riverboats
Huge ship wheel from 1922 on display inside the new BB Riverboats facility.

“This is the way the old steamboats ran their boats,” Bernstein said. “The brass that you see around the rim and the brass on the hub is the way they stopped the wheel from turning.”

The 40-year-old company hopes the event space drives enough business for it to continue to grow.

“We have talked about another medium sized boat,” Bernstein said.

Anyone interested in booking an event can click here for more information.