August 31, 2020

Hard Rock Casino Bristol to Bring New Flights to Tri-Cities Airport

A proposed Hard Rock casino in the Virginia city of Bristol will bring more flights to Tri-Cities Airport, if the project gets approved in the November 3 general election, casino advocates told the Tri-Cities Airport Authority at a Thursday Zoom meeting.

The Bristol City Council selected earlier this year Hard Rock International as its preferred casino developer. The Florida-based gaming and hospitality company is pitching a $400 million project that needs to be approved by city voters in the November 3 ballot in order to move forward.

During the Thursday Zoom meeting with the Airport Authority, The United Company President and CEO Martin Kent said that Hard Rock’s planned Bristol hotel-casino resort will be connected to the company’s other properties in the US and abroad, which means that the Bristol complex will have a “truly international reach.”

Mr. Kent added that Bristol will be able to benefit from a large pool of highly sought after performers that will come to the city and that the resort will also be expected to feature various dining and retail experiences that will bring people to the city to “stay and play and participate in many attractions.”

Bristol-based The United Company is Hard Rock’s local partner in its casino endeavor. The company has evolved from its origin of coal production to a range of operations and services, including coal, oil, and gas exploration as well as investment management services and real estate development.

Casino Could Add a Lot to Tri-Cities Air Travel

Tri-Cities Airport Executive Director Gene Cossey said Thursday that if Hard Rock’s casino project is successful, it “could add a lot to our air travel” and that the air service side of Bristol’s casino effort “is extremely important to us.”

If a casino opens doors in the southwest Virginia city, it is expected to bring additional new flights from non-gaming states Georgia and South Carolina as well as from Dallas, Texas because most gaming in that state happens along the Mexico border.

Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Bristol will feature a hotel with up to 750 rooms, a casino with up to 2,700 slot machines, 100 table games, and a sportsbook, seven dining outlets, four bars, 30,000 square feet of retail space, 50,000 square feet of meeting and convention facilities, a 3,200-seat indoor entertainment venue, and an outdoor entertainment venue with capacity for 20,000 people, among other facilities.

The Virginia Lottery Board pre-certified Hard Rock’s bid to build a casino resort in Bristol in July, and the City Council passed a resolution asking a Circuit Court to allow a local referendum on the casino matter to be held this coming November.

City voters will be asked to vote yes or no to the following ballot question:

“Shall casino gaming be permitted at a casino gaming establishment in the City of Bristol, Virginia at 500 Gate City Highway, Bristol, Virginia 24201 (former Bristol Mall) as may be approved by the Virginia Lottery Board?”

The casino, if approved by city voters, is expected to create 3,500 direct and indirect jobs and draw four million visitors annually. According to early estimates, it would contribute between $15 million and $20 million in local tax revenue to Bristol’s coffers.

Hard Rock recently formed the Vote Yes For Bristol referendum committee in anticipation of the November 3 ballot. Hard Rock Chairman Jim Allen, The United Company Chairman and CEO Jim McGlothlin, and Par Ventures President Clyde Stacy are serving as honorary committee co-chairs.