The HeadWaters Resort & Casino in Norfolk is one step closer to fruition.
The Norfolk City Council approved a lease extension for the area’s minor league baseball team, the Norfolk Tides. That agreement, which includes several allowances for the casino, spells good news for the project.
What to know about Norfolk’s HeadWaters Casino and the new agreement
The new agreement states that as construction happens, workers can use part of the baseball team’s parking lot to house machines, vehicles and materials. Additionally, the city wants full control over naming rights revenue generated from the casino or its owner, the Pamunkey Tribe. The casino plans to eventually buy the land from the city, and once that happens, the land will officially move off the baseball team’s lease.
The city also noted it plans to sell additional land to the casino. The land is east of the outfield fence and currently features the visiting team’s bullpen and a picnic area.
Additionally, the city is responsible for replacing certain amenities during construction. The city must replace the bullpen before the land is sold to the casino, according to the agreement. The same goes for the picnic area that the casino will buy. If construction interferes with the team’s scoreboard or video boards, it’s on the city to move them.
Building the temporary Norfolk casino has been ‘pretty challenging’
So far, construction planning has been a challenge, according to Norfolk City Manager Chip Filer. He told WAVY-TV in December that the site itself isn’t as open as other projects. The Pamunkey Tribe’s temporary casino will stand in the baseball stadium’s parking lot. That spot will be the casino’s permanent home, too.
“I think we all wish this was a situation where we had a big open field and could start building our casino,” he said. “[But the] site is pretty challenging. [It’s] created a host of problems, from where the laydown will go to how you’ll build the temporary casino and start construction of the permanent casino at the same time.
Why previous plans for the HeadWaters casino fell through
Plans for the temporary casino came to a screeching halt due to its location.
Plans slated the temporary casino to run in the baseball team’s stadium as construction continued on its permanent facility. But for this to happen, the casino needed to be located at a specific spot.
The referendum stated that it could be located at 200 Park Avenue. The Tide’s stadium resides at 150 Park Ave., making a casino in that spot illegal.
According to the Virginian-Pilot, city officials were aware of the issue. Instead of relocating, they continued with the project, knowing plans would fall through if this hiccup came to light.
The paper noted that city officials “dodged questions” about the address change. Officials described it was a “boundary adjustment” and wouldn’t say the reason for the change.
“The city changed the address of Harbor Park baseball stadium in an apparent attempt to circumvent language in the casino referendum that Norfolk voters approved,” the Virginian-Pilot wrote.
When will the new casino open?
The permanent casino will be completed in roughly 18-24 months. The temporary casino, however, will open sooner.
Once completed, the permanent casino will feature a 300-room hotel, an entertainment venue, various restaurants, indoor and outdoor swimming pools and a spa.
Think of it like Bristol Casino – Future Home of Hard Rock. That casino was the state’s first albeit a temporary one. Construction is expected to conclude in the spring of 2024. In the meantime, the casino offers customers 870 slots, 21 tables and a sportsbook in its 30,000-square foot facility.
Additionally, the casino property will hold a job fair for those looking to work on construction of the site or find a full-time role when the casino is built. The project will generate 2,000 temporary construction jobs and 2,500 full-time positions.