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BB Riverboats to Bring New Floating Facility to Newport

BB Riverboats, which operates riverboat excursions on the Ohio River from Newport Landing, is bringing a former casino barge to the region, which the company will convert into a new event facility, catering operation, wharf, and business offices.

The barge was once part of a floating complex that housed the Argosy Casino in Sioux City, Iowa. It is now being towed from a shipyard in Wood River, Illinois to Covington, a 700-mile trip that will take about 10 days to complete. The barge is currently on the Ohio River near Paducah. 

“This barge is three times the size of our existing facility now moored on the Newport riverfront,” said Capt. Alan Bernstein, owner of BB Riverboats. “The new barge, which measures 300 feet in length and 54 feet in width, will replace BB Riverboats’ current facility, which has been in operation since 1984.”  

“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.”

BB Riverboats will spend approximately $2 million to retrofit and rebrand the barge. During the remodel, the vessel will be moored at the foot of Madison Avenue in Covington, where Fedders Construction will complete the renovations over the summer.

When improvements are complete, the barge will house a state-of-the-art event facility with a full bar and a new kitchen to serve the company’s Current Catering operations. In addition, the barge will house BB Riverboats’ reservations center, executive offices, and vessel operations.

The new event center will seat as many as 200 people and will feature an outdoor, wrap-around deck that will offer guests a spectacular view of the Cincinnati skyline.

“The new event facility will give our customers a unique experience,” Bernstein said. “Much like our river cruises, the event facility will offer fabulous river views as well as the outstanding food and customer service that our customers have come to expect on our cruises and in our catering operations.”

Renovations of the new facilities are expected to take about six months to complete.

“We are very excited to be part of a project that will become a fixture on the Northern Kentucky skyline and riverfront,” said Albert Fedders, owner of Fedders Construction. “It's not everyday that you get the opportunity to work on such a high-profile project with BB Riverboats, one of the most recognizable companies in our region”.

 In January of 2019 when renovation work is complete in Covington, BB Riverboats plans to move the barge to its permanent location at 101 Riverboat Row in Newport, where it will replace the company’s current floating facility. 

“We are thrilled that BB Riverboats is once again expanding and bringing new jobs, investment, and visitors to Newport,” said Newport City Manager Tom Fromme. “BB Riverboats has been a great partner with the city and one of our leading and most recognizable businesses for years. This project is just another great example of why Newport is a great place to visit, live, work, and play.” 

Prior to BB Riverboats purchasing the barge, it was stored for nearly four years in a Wood River, Illinois shipyard. Two towboats operated by Point Clear Towing, LLC, based in Paducah, Kentucky, have guided the barge down the Mississippi River and are now towing it up the Ohio River to its temporary construction site in Covington. 

-Staff report

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Slideshow Images & Captions: 
Rendering of renovated barge