Hard Rock Bristol Casino Proposal Welcomed by Area Residents in Virginia

Posted on: May 24, 2020, 10:01h. 

Last updated on: May 24, 2020, 11:26h.

The proposed Hard Rock Bristol casino resort that would transform the vacant Bristol Mall received relatively positive feedback from area residents during a meeting to discuss the project.

Hard Rock Bristol casino Virginia
Hard Rock Bristol is closer to receiving full authorization from the Virginia city after residents voiced positive feedback to the bid. (Image: Hard Rock International)

During its May 21 meeting, the Bristol City Council reviewed the $400 million integrated resort concept, which is being backed by Virginia businessmen Jim McGlothlin and Clyde Stacy. The two were responsible for Virginia ending its prohibition on casino gambling through their campaign, “Betting on Bristol” – a drive that led to lawmakers passing legislation authorizing casinos in five economically depressed cities.

The Bristol City Council says Hard Rock was the only bidder that submitted the necessary documents prior to its May 8 deadline. In a 317-page proposal, Hard Rock reveals that the Bristol resort would modernize the 46-acre Bristol Mall into an entertainment resort destination.

Hard Rock Bristol would feature a 750-room hotel, spa, entertainment and concert venues with indoor and outdoor capacities ranging from 3,200 to 20,000 people, a mix of dining from casual to high-end, convention space, casino and sportsbook.

Bristol considers itself the birthplace of country music because of music producer Ralph Peer and Fiddlin’ John Carson recording their take on “Little Old Log Cabin in the Lane” there in the 1920s.

Positive Reception

During the City Council meeting, the agency heard feedback from area residents via letters and emails. The comments were mostly positive.

As a business owner, I think it’s a great idea,” one Bristol resident said. “Where else are we going to have the opportunity to bring these high-paying jobs to our area?” Another email read, “Am I betting on Bristol? You betcha.”

Others, however, urged the council to do their due diligence before formally approving the project. “My own preference is that you, our councilmen, have the safety net of an expert analysis before approving the casino operator,” a commenter wrote.

Hard Rock International Chairman Jim Allen and McGlothin told the City Council in a letter that the casino resort will generate annual local taxes of between $15 million and $20 million. The property will have an annual payroll of approximately $90 million, “and will help to provide the city a source of new revenue, both to local and regional businesses, and add significantly, through indirect spending, to the local and regional economy.”

Other Bidder Bails

The Bristol City Council was expecting two casino submissions before its deadline earlier this month. Along with Hard Rock, real estate developer Steve Johnson said he was partnering with the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians (EBCI) to propose a gaming resort just north of his shopping complex, The Pinnacle, located on the Tennessee-Virginia border.

The land where Johnson had suggested building a casino is less than two miles west of the Bristol Mall. The scheme, unveiled in January, called for a casino, hotel, indoor waterpark, and 15,000-seat outdoor concert venue.

Johnson and the EBCI failed to submit formal plans to the Bristol City Council.