Advocates for the Bristol casino are continuing to lobby for the lucrative project, hailing its impact on the regional economy, with the most recent event being a Zoom meeting held among members of the airport commission Thursday. The United Company, one of the partners with the Seminole Tribe for the project outlined that if the casino materializes, it will attract more flights for the Tri-Cities Airport.
Passenger Air Traffic Expected to Rise
Out of the five state-line cities approved to legally host a casino in Virginia, Bristol is poised to attract more people from outside the area, especially from states where there is no legal gaming such as Georgia and South Carolina, United Company’s representative highlighted.
“We think Tri-Cities Airport is one of the top beneficiaries. Obviously, Bristol, Virginia City, the school district from the tax revenue, but particularly the increase in flights and passengers coming through the Tri-Cities I think will be immeasurable.”
Jason Eige, VP and General Counsel, The United Company
The Tri-Cities Airport in Blountville, Tennessee is servicing Northeast Tennessee, Kentucky, North Carolina, and Southwest Virginia. Gene Cossey, Executive Director of the airport agreed that if the project is approved, it would definitely add more to the air travel, outlining the importance of the air service aspect the casino project would bring.
Initial Public Approval for the Casino
The Virginia Lottery pre-certified in July Hard Rock International to develop and operate a casino in Bristol and the Hard Rock Casino & Resort project received mostly positive feedback during a public hearing held by Bristol City Council.
According to the comprehensive report submitted to the council by the gaming and hospitality operator of the Seminole Tribe, the former Bristol Mall is set to host, besides a casino, a 750-room hotel, restaurants and other fine-dining outlets, shops, a 50,000- square-foot convention centre and a 20,000-seat outdoor concert venue and a 3,000-seat indoor concert hall. The $300 million project is estimated to create 3,500 direct and indirect jobs, generate between $15 million and $20 million in local taxes per year and attract 4 million tourists annually.
Virginia legislators approved Bristol as part of a group of 5 cities located along the state-line, Danville, Norfolk, Portsmouth and Richmond, to host casinos and give another stream of revenue for the cities. Still, the casino’s fate is in the hands of Bristol residents who are set to vote on the project during the General Elections in November.
Leaders of the Hard Rock Casino & Resort project already set up a Vote Yes For Bristol referendum committee co-chaired by the Chairman of Hard Rock International, Jim Allen, the Chairman of The United Company, Jim McGlothlin and the President of Par Ventures, Clyde Stacy.