NFL Greats Emmitt Smith, Bruce Smith Among Cordish Cos.’ Richmond Casino Investors

Written By Dann Stupp on May 17, 2021 - Last Updated on August 2, 2023
Emmitt Smith

NFL legends Emmitt Smith and Bruce Smith could be among the investors in a new Richmond casino.

The Cordish Companies, one of two finalists for the project, recently announced it has achieved $180 million in direct minority investment for the proposed $600 million project.

Cordish Cos., along with its 50% minority partnership team, is still offering additional investment opportunities. They are for small, Richmond-based minority companies and individuals who want to partner on the proposed Live! Casino & Hotel Richmond.

By the end of the month, the City of Richmond will choose a proposal from either Cordish or its lone remaining competitor: a partnership between Urban One and Colonial Downs. Then, Richmond voters will decide the fate of the project with a casino referendum on Election Day.

If Richmonders greenlight the project, the capital will join four other cities that approved projects involving Virginia casinos in 2020.

Meet Emmitt Smith and Cordish Cos.’ other investors

According to The Cordish Co. CEO Zed Smith, the investment tally makes its proposed project “one of the largest, if not the largest, minority equity investments in the history of Virginia. Our team of minority equity partners represents a dynamic group of locally based and nationally recognized investors who share our passion and commitment to excellence and being a good community partner.”

The Richmond casino minority equity partners include:

  • Emmitt Smith: Chairman of his namesake company, the E Smith Advisors real estate and services firm, Smith is the NFL’s leading rusher, a three-time Super Bowl winner and a Pro Football Hall of Fame inductee.
  • Bruce Smith: The Virginia native, who founded the commercial real estate firm Bruce Smith Enterprise (BSE), is a Pro Football Hall of Famer and the NFL record holder for sacks.
  • Bushrod Family: NFL Pro Bowler and Super Bowl XLIV Champion Jermon Bushrod and his father operate The Visualize & Rize Foundation.
  • Davis Family: Davis Brothers Construction Company, Inc. (DBCC) is one of the oldest family-owned construction companies in Virginia.
  • Anthony Jimenez: He’s the founder, chairman and CEO of Virginia-based MicroTech, one of the largest Hispanic-owned IT integrators in the nation.
  • Billy McMullen: McMullen is a former University of Virginia All-American receiver and NFL vet. His community outreach efforts now include coaching and mentoring.

As Bruce Smith stated of the project:

“Our minority partnership group is comprised of highly accomplished individuals from Virginia and across the country. … Our partnership group, including my friends Emmitt Smith III, Billy McMullen, the Davis Family and others, [is] committed to not only making a significant financial investment in the city, but just importantly, investing our time and philanthropic efforts in lifting our communities in Richmond to new heights.”

For Richmond casino, it’s down to two

A Richmond casino is anything but a sure thing. Portsmouth, Norfolk, Danville and Bristol voters all overwhelmingly voted in favor of casinos. However, Richmond is facing some organized opposition.

The Cordish Cos. would build its proposed resort in the Scott’s Addition entertainment district of the city. The Richmond casino’s potential location has been the primary source of disagreement in the city of 230,000.

The Cordish project would include gaming, conference and hotel space. It’s also likely to have the usual casino attractions, including:

The Cordish Cos. also operates casinos in Maryland, Pennsylvania and Florida. Proponents have touted that the project would create 3,000 permanent full-time jobs and 5,000 temporary construction jobs. Officials also expect it to have a $5.3 billion economic impact for Richmond over the next decade.

Photo by AP / Peter Wynn Thompson
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Dann Stupp

Dann Stupp is a longtime sports journalist who’s written and edited for The Athletic, USA Today, ESPN, and other outlets. He lives in Lexington, Virginia.

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