Expect to see more construction traffic at the Bristol Mall any day now — and a Hard Rock Bristol Casino groundbreaking ceremony won’t be far behind.
The casino’s president, Allie Evangelista, will head a groundbreaking ceremony for the permanent Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Bristol sometime this month.
Then, Bristol Casino — Future Home of Hard Rock guests will have to pardon the “dust and noise” of construction.
Evangelista said Hard Rock Bristol kept a hired construction company on stand-by while everyone waited on plan approval. Visiting Hard Rock International execs recently signed off on the details in Bristol. Meanwhile, projections for the future permanent casino have held steady, according to a Hard Rock spokesperson. They include:
- 100,000+ sq. ft.-casino
- Almost 30,000 slots
- 100 table games
- 20,000-seat, outdoor live-music venue
- 3,200-seat amphitheater
- retail shops
And Evangelista hinted at “some more” offerings above and beyond what we already know about the project. Hard Rock doesn’t have a final cost estimate but expect a $500 million upgrade in the city of Bristol.
The project will add to the workforce in the Tennessee-Virginia border region as well.
Breaking cultural barriers at the Bristol Casino groundbreaking
At the invitation of the Bristol Chamber, the Hard Rock team recently presented its Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Strategy to community business and youth leaders. The company’s platform of “5 Reasons Why” addressed changing demographics, plus the moral and ethical importance of a diverse workforce.
The company uses a two-fold objective to leverage diversity goals:
- Enhance the team member’s experience
- Grow the Hard Rock business
Hard Rock has over 600 new hires so far, both at the front of the house and the back of the house. The jobs range from entry-level and managerial positions alike. A Hard Rock spokesperson told PlayVirginia “we are committed to diversity, equity, and inclusion.”
Current projections for the casino call for another 600 team members between now and 2024. They want a full staff in time for Hard Rock’s grand opening.
With that goal in mind, the casino’s HR department will partner with a Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion team. Together, they’ll come up with a talent-sourcing strategy specific to the Bristol area. From there, they’ll connect with community partners like higher education institutions, economic development organizations, nonprofits, and more.
And that should lead to Hard Rock hosting area recruiting efforts like job fairs and marketing campaigns.
Early numbers prove promising
The temporary Bristol Mall site is pulling in numbers as the Bristol casino groundbreaking ceremony approaches. Almost 40,000 individual visitors have traveled from all 50 states for a total of 109,000 casino visits.
The temporary casino offers no hotel lodging. Gaming mainly appeals to the local market as a result. That could explain why more than 50% of Hard Rock Bristol visitors so far live within a 50-mile radius.
Plans for the permanent site include 700 hotel rooms, making it a future destination resort.
Visitors to Hard Rock Bristol’s temporary casino wagered more than $37 million in its first nine days. Hard Rock slots collected about $35 million.
- Gross gaming revenue in the first three months reached around $40.3 million. That means the state saw tax payments of $7.3 million.
- Customer loyalty program sign-ups provided a very pleasant surprise in the casino’s first four months, according to Evangelista. More than 50,000 visitors have already enrolled — that’s about double what Hard Rock Bristol expected.
The casino also donated more than $22,000 to charities. Hard Rock Bristol further plans to partner with the Feeding Southwest Virginia Food Bank and the Salvation Army in November.
Looking forward, Evangelista shared her optimism about the holiday and ensuing winter months. The area offers lots of seasonal options for the warmer months. Those dwindle with colder temps. Therefore: “We get really busy between Christmas and New Year’s,” she said.
Bristol Casino groundbreaking leads to 2024 plans
The grand opening of the permanent site is about a year and a half away. But, players who visit the temporary site can enjoy:
- 30,000 sq. ft. casino
- 870 slots
- 21 tables
- Sports bar and lounge with entertainment