A new $150-million resort casino for Bristol, Virginia has won the favor of the community. Bristol essentially straddles the Virginia-Tennessee border, with a city of the same name found just across the state line. Backers believe that it will have a “transformative” effect on the city’s economy, as well as that of the region and the state.
The resort, with a working name of Bristol Resort and Casino, is a proposal created by two prominent Virginia business leaders, Jim McGlothlin and Clyde Stacy. It is expected to be located on the site of the former Bristol Mall, which occupied a 49-acre tract of land before it closed at the end of August last year. It will offer a casino with around 100,000 square feet, which will be integrated into one of the former primary stores, such as Sears or J.C. Penney.
A comparable amount of space would be allocated for entertainment and “family-friendly” attractions. There will also be a 25,000-square-foot sportsbook, a hotel with as many 1,000 rooms and retail and restaurant spaces. The resort could employ as many as 2,000 area residents the first year and more than 5,200 within seven years.
Stacy purchased the property this past June for $2.6 million. He explained, “Jim and I have been blessed with successful business careers here in Southwest Virginia. We are putting that success behind this major project to benefit the entire region, building the Bristol Resort and Casino here at the Bristol Mall. What that means in real terms is that we are not asking for any government support for this project. Our plan is to build it all with private dollars. This is our chance to provide lasting, meaningful support to a community that has supported us for so many years.”
McGlothlin, the chairman and CEO of The United Company and owner of the Olde Farm golf course, said, “This is personal for me. I have lived and worked here my entire life. Everyone in the region, and across the state, knows the major challenges we face, many of which are unique to Southwest Virginia. From the loss of jobs, and limited career opportunities, to the opioid epidemic, these challenges have been well documented. This project is our chance at a ‘moon-shot’. We want to give local residents a bright and secure future for many generations to come. Good-paying jobs are the key to giving folks a reason to stay in the region and also to move here. At the end of the day, that’s why I’m doing this, to help folks in this place I call home, Southwest Virginia.”
He further stated, “Not one dollar is coming from the city of Bristol, the state of Virginia or the federal government. Clyde and myself are going to put all the money up for this.”
The deal isn’t in the clear yet. Gaming still has to be legalized in the state by the Virginia General Assembly. If the resort is approved, it could mean as much as $26.8 million in tax revenue to Bristol after seven years.