State-of-the-art parking garage and creative approach to opening with GUINNESS WORLD RECORDS™ titles, Michael Andretti

Six-floor structure offers more than 2,700 spaces


RIDGEFIELD, Wash. (Feb. 2, 2021) – ilani, the premier gaming, dining, entertainment and meeting destination in Southwest Washington, recently opened its newest investment in economic development on the Cowlitz Reservation. The six-story, million-square-foot parking structure includes more than 2,700 spaces and will allow for a future expansion to more than 4,000 spaces.

Opening features Michael Andretti and record attempts

To mark the grand opening and to showcase the “speed ramps” that provide rapid access to the garage’s upper levels, ilani hosted a private race, featuring American auto racing driver Michael Andretti traveling down one of the garage’s speed ramps in an edible cake car. The car was a replica of Andretti’s 1991 IndyCar National Championship race car.

During the private race, ilani and Andretti helped break two GUINNESS WORLD RECORDS titles — for the fastest edible vehicle (17.08 mph) and the longest distance covered by an edible vehicle (349.81 feet). To meet GUINNESS WORLD RECORDS guidelines, the edible vehicle had to be 90% edible. The car weighed in at an astounding 669 pounds, 91% of which was edible.

“I had a great time with Black Sheep Custom Cakes and the entire ilani team setting a new fastest edible vehicle speed record,” said Andretti. “I’ve driven a lot of vehicles, and this was by far one of the most unique. What a great way to showcase this new state-of-the art parking facility.”

The record-breaking car was designed, baked and built by renowned celebrity cake artist Mike Elder. After the race concluded, ilani donated more than 500 pounds of the cake car to Share Vancouver, a local nonprofit whose mission is to lead the hungry and homeless to self-sufficiency by providing food, shelter, housing, education, advocacy and compassion through the strength of the community.

“It was a dream come true for the Black Sheep Custom Cakes team and me to shatter our old fastest edible vehicle speed record and to set a new record for longest distance with Michael Andretti at ilani,” said Elder. “Building, baking, making and decorating two 600+ pound cakes, let alone racing these legendary Andretti replica race car cakes, is a lifetime memory. Setting two GUINNESS WORLD RECORDS titles in the process is just the icing on the cake!”

“I was thrilled and honored to have witnessed Chef and Cake Artist, Mike Elder’s incredible event at ilani, which garnered him and his team two more GUINNESS WORLD RECORDS™ titles! Not only was this one of the most fun and unique attempts that I have had the opportunity to adjudicate, but it was also truly one of the most difficult and impressive challenges I have ever seen a team take on,” said Christina Flounders Conlon, GUINNESS WORLD RECORDS Adjudicator. “While satisfying the multitude of guidelines required of any GUINNESS WORLD RECORDS attempter, they increased the difficulty level exponentially by taking on two record titles with two historic cake vehicles in an exhilarating side-by-side attempt. This awesome team not only reached their goals but exceeded them, as the winning car (with the help of expert piloting by Michael Andretti) exceeded the speed and distance they hoped to achieve! A huge congratulations to Chef Elder and his team, Michael Andretti, the Cowlitz Indian Tribe, and the fantastic staff of ilani on making this remarkable event possible.”

The unique event would not have been possible without numerous partners and sponsors, including Swinerton, Specht, GP Energy, Maker’s Mark, White Claw, Safeway/Albertsons, CoreMark, Swire Coca-Cola, Michelob Ultra, Pacific Cabinetry & Design, Carr Vancouver, Argyle, Hop Valley, Tricor, IGN, Car Toys, Orkin, Black Sheep Custom Cakes, Les Schwab, Compass Group, Adelsheim, Satin Ice, 360 Marketing & Events, Double Barrel Print and many more.

New parking structure enables growth

ilani continues to differentiate itself, evidenced by the investment in a parking structure that focuses on attractive finishes to create an appealing look. ilani’s current surface parking lots are often near capacity. The new garage will allow ilani to host major concerts and other events during peak business volumes on weekends, as well as support planned future expansions.

“The parking garage is a testament to the ever-increasing attraction of ilani and a further showcase of the tribe’s commitment to the community,” said Cowlitz Indian Tribe Chairman Philip Harju. “We believe the future holds more opportunity for growth, and this garage — and its potential for expansion — will help us accommodate more visitors and more activity for years to come.”

ilani also aims to enhance the guest experience and public safety by offering the latest in technology and structural enhancements. The state-of-the-art parking garage includes an LED park-assist system to help guests with easy navigation, indicating how many spaces are available on each level. Forgot where you parked? No worries! Find your car using the kiosk near the garage elevators and get directions to your vehicle. Complimentary electric charging stations are also available to guests across multiple floors.

“We are delighted to provide this modern and convenient garage for our guests and to continue the expansion of ilani’s offerings to the community,” said Kara Fox-LaRose, president and general manager of ilani. “The increased parking capacity is a key component to realizing the Cowlitz Indian Tribe’s long-term vision for the reservation. We look forward to announcing additional new projects in the near future.”

Naming conventions for each level which incorporate different cultural components significant to the Cowlitz Tribe’s history provide guests with a thoughtful approach to learning about the Tribe upon arrival. Each floor also has a designated color and number, and ilani VIPs will enjoy first-come, first-served access to the first level of the garage with license plate recognition.

Other features include structural enhancements that enable the use of the rooftop area as outdoor event space in the summer, as well as a covered walkway to connect the structure to the main ilani building.

Project safety and execution relies on local teamwork

The state-of-the art parking garage incorporates key safety features. The project team worked closely with Clark County Fire and Rescue to implement a fire suppression system that exceeds current fire codes and to ensure the entire facility has effective radio communication for first responders. In addition, there are more than 1,400 surveillance cameras installed in the garage.

“The Cowlitz Indian Tribe and the operations team at ilani continue to be great partners for the Fire District,” said Clark County Fire Chief John Nohr. “It is clear that they understand the risk of fire and the value of a fire mitigation system. We are very pleased that they chose to make that extra investment for protection of the public, our responders and their property.”

The award-winning garage would not be possible without the support of the Cowlitz Indian Tribe and key partners, including Salishan-Mohegan, Swinerton Builders, Friedmutter Group, Walker Parking, and many other local and regional vendors and contractors.

“Since the initial casino construction, Swinerton has appreciated the opportunity to develop the Cowlitz Reservation campus,” said John Ciepiela, Senior Project Manager at Swinerton. “Our Northwest team is thrilled to continue our partnership with the Cowlitz Tribe and ilani with the delivery of the parking garage expansion. We look forward to continued growth, and we cannot thank the ilani operations team and the Cowlitz Tribal Council enough for giving us the opportunity to showcase our national expertise as a design-builder.”

“This was another tremendous team effort: the development team and ilani partnered with nearly 50 local businesses to make it happen,” said Mario Kontomerkos CEO from Mohegan Gaming & Entertainment, for Salishan-Mohegan. “We are so appreciative of the commitment to quality, the hard work and the additional safety measures that enabled this project to be completed in the most difficult circumstances. We are grateful for the leadership of ilani and thank all those who assisted in making this project a huge success which will support the continued growth of ilani and the future of the Cowlitz Tribe.”

With the support of all partners, the Vancouver Business Journal’s annual Top Projects special edition, which features each year’s most outstanding construction projects, designated ilani’s new parking garage as the Top Commercial Project for 2020.

Located on the Cowlitz Reservation in Ridgefield, Washington, ilani, developed by the Cowlitz Tribe and Salishan-Mohegan, a partnership that includes Mohegan Sun, one of the world’s foremost gaming and entertainment developers and operators, is the Pacific Northwest’s premier gaming, dining, entertainment and meeting destination. With nearly 400,000 total square feet, ilani includes 100,000 square feet of gaming space with more than 2,500 slots and 75 gaming tables; 15 different restaurants, bars and retail outlets; and a 2,500-seat meeting and entertainment venue hosting nationally recognized performances. For more information, visit and follow ilani on FacebookTwitter and Instagram.

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