The Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe will announce Monday that it has closed on the purchase of two major hotels in downtown St. Paul, a deal that tribal leaders first spoke about in January.

A news conference has been scheduled for 9:30 a.m. Monday at the Crowne Plaza Riverfront Hotel, one of the two hotels that the band is believed to have purchased; the other is the DoubleTree by Hilton. In number of rooms they rank first and third, respectively, among St. Paul hotels.

Officials are not confirming the identity of the hotels until Monday. The Crowne Plaza and the DoubleTree had been up for sale by SP Hotels, an affiliate of New York-based Trinity Hotel Investors, since last summer.

Mille Lacs Band leaders have said that the purchases represent a new effort to diversify the tribal economy beyond gambling to achieve economic self-sufficiency. St. Paul leaders have also said the purchases are tangible evidence of new investment interest in downtown.

Joe Nayquonabe Jr., the tribal commissioner in charge of the band’s corporate arm, will announce the purchases and discuss planned improvements. The band has enlisted Graves Hospitality Corp., owned by Jim Graves, to manage the hotels.

Kevin Duchschere