Bristol Sets Date for Public Hearing on Casino Resort

Hard Rock Sole Respondent to Bristol, VA Casino Information Request


The City Council of the Virginia city of Bristol will hold a public hearing next week in relation to a proposal for the development of a casino resort at the site of Bristol Mall.

The hearing is scheduled to take place on Thursday, May 21 at 12:30 pm local time at the city hall. The City Council will hear all members of the public that are willing to voice their opinion on the matter.

News emerged earlier this month that Florida-based gaming and hospitality company Hard Rock International was the lone respondent in Bristol’s request for information process, which city officials launched in mid-April.

Potentially interested companies had until May 8 to submit the requested information. Hard Rock and Bristol officials announced a casino resort partnership last fall, should casino gambling become legal in Virginia.

The state Legislature passed legislation permitting the development of casinos in five cash-strapped cities this past March. However, casino proposals should be approved by residents of the cities in local referendums.

Bristol is expected to hold its casino referendum on November 3. Until then, the City Council should announce whether it has approved Hard Rock’s plan. The company has submitted a two-page cover letter and a 307-page plan to city leaders.

As mentioned earlier, the city will hear members of the public on May 21. Those who want to voice their opinion but do not wish to attend the meeting in person due to Covid-19, are able to say what they think about the casino via telephone or email.

City officials are expected to announce their decision on the project on May 26.

Hard Rock’s Proposal

Hard Rock said in the documentation submitted with the Bristol City Council that it wants to modernize the vacant 46-acre Bristol Industrial Mall by developing an entertainment-focused hotel and casino complex.

Hard Rock Bristol will feature a hotel with 750 rooms and suites, a fitness center, and a spa, “an energy and music filled gaming floor, surrounded by a mix of dining options including high-end restaurants not currently found in the Bristol region”, meeting and event spaces, and an indoor/outdoor Hard Rock Live entertainment center that will be able to host indoor concerts attended by up to 3,200 guests and outdoor events with capacity for 20,000 people.

In addition, the project includes retail outlets for high-end luxury goods and stores that may sell name brands at a discount.

Hard Rock noted that “given the currently distressed national economy, the final number of rooms and the size of the overall resorts will depend on the economic realities at the time the company receives its license and when it breaks ground on Phase One of the project. Yet, it said that the plan “has the capacity to expand to the full scope described above.”

Hard Rock said previously that its resort could generate 2,000 new jobs during its first year of operations and more than 5,200 jobs within the first seven years, and that it could turn into “an economic engine” for the region as it could bring 4 million visitors per year, mostly from out of state.

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