(UPDATES WITH BALLY’S AND CORDISH STATEMENTS)
The city of Richmond dropped Bally’s from consideration to build a casino in Virginia, leaving Cordish Companies and Urban One as the remaining finalists.
Bally’s was the last of three groups to make its presentation earlier this month, proposing a $650 million casino on a 61-acre tract in the northwest portion of the city that would have had 117,500 square feet of gaming space with a sportsbook. The proposal also included a $100 million upfront payment to the city of Richmond if it was selected. Of the three presentations made on successive days, Bally’s received the most pushback during public feedback afterward as many citizens expressed environmental and ecological concerns.
The Office of the Press Secretary for the Mayor released a statement on the city’s official website Wednesday that read:
The proposed Bally’s Richmond Casino Resort and the project’s proposed site of Parkway Crossings (Chippenham Parkway and Powhite Parkway) are no longer being considered by the Evaluation Panel.
“We appreciate Bally’s interest to develop a resort casino project in Richmond,” said Leonard Sledge, Director of the city’s Department of Economic Development. “The Evaluation Panel is no longer considering the Bally’s project or the Parkway Crossings site for a resort casino due to concerns about site access, environmental factors, and required approvals from non-city entities that may not be granted or extend the project timeline. We also appreciate the many Richmond citizens who have shared their thoughts throughout this process.”
“We are the best operator to partner with the City on this endeavor and provided the largest financial package with the most economic benefit to RVA residents and business owners,” Bally’s CEO George Papanier said in a statement. “We were deeply committed to this project, as well as to becoming a responsible neighbor and member of the Richmond community. Should the City reconsider its decision, we would be pleased to reengage. Though we stand by the fact that our bid was objectively the strongest, we respect the City’s decision, and look forward to providing our best-in-class online sports betting platform to sports fans across the State of Virginia under our recently awarded temporary sports wagering permit.”
Both finalists offer statements after advancing
Cordish Companies, which operates Live! casinos along the Eastern Corridor, proposed a $600 million project with a 250,000-square-foot casino. Cordish is proposing to build its casino on Arthur Ashe Boulevard in the Scott’s Addition neighborhood.
“We thank the City of Richmond for continuing to recognize the strength of our proposal and its overall benefits to the City, its residents and visitors,” said Cordish Companies COO Zed Smith in a statement. “We are excited by the support we are receiving from residents, businesses and civic organizations throughout the City who believe it is a no brainer to focus the project in a district known for great dining and entertainment and easily accessible to the population base from both I-64 and I-95.
“No gaming or development company in the country has our proven track record of building and operating the highest quality destinations over many decades. Every commitment, program and goal contained in our proposal has been successfully achieved time and again by us in other cities in the country and we pledge to bring the same excellence, high-quality standards and community-focused approach to Richmond. We are confident Live! Richmond will be as successful as our other market leading projects throughout the U.S.”
Urban One — seeking to operate the first Black-owned casino in the United States — presented plans for a $517 million casino in partnership with Pacific Peninsula Entertainment. Its proposed casino would be located in an industrial area in the 8th District — on a tract of land where tobacco giant Phillip Morris previously operated.
“ONE is extremely pleased to be one of two finalists to develop a premier resort casino project in the city of Richmond,” Urban One CEO Alfred Liggins said in a statement. “We have been a leader in this process because we have the best location, best team, best project, and best opportunity to lift up the whole city of Richmond. Our $600 million proposal is the only one that has widespread community support around it.
“Our location is in an industrial area off Interstate 95 in South Richmond that provides terrific job opportunities and amenities for our potential new neighbors as well as broad exposure for Richmond. We look forward to the final steps in this process and hopefully being the city’s partner long into the future.”
Virginia, which launched online sports betting in mid-January, is in the process of greatly expanding its gaming prospects. Along with sports betting, new state law passed in 2020 permits voters in five cities including Richmond to approve (or reject) the construction of brick-and-mortar casinos. In November 2020, voters in four of those cities approved casinos. Richmond has operated on a different timeline, and voters there won’t have their say on a casino until November.