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Local leaders welcome resort’s potential impact on region

Major players in the proposed Hard Rock Resort and Casino were at the Bristol Mall Thursday morning to give the community a look at what they hope will become a reality in the very near future.
After receiving Virginia legislative approval as well as the approval of city leaders, the project — which will cover 45 acres and bring a reported 2,000 direct jobs to the area — has only one more hurdle to overcome before becoming a reality  a city-wide vote in November.
Hard Rock officials also say the resort will boost the local tax coffers by $16-21 million annually and will bring in more than four million visitors annually.
That is good news not just for Bristol but for Elizabethton and Carter County say local leaders.
“As is the case with anything that will bring quite a few jobs and bring people in to visit, it will help everyone,” said Curt Alexander, Mayor of Elizabethton. “I think it will be nothing but a positive for this region.
“Absolutely, it will help create jobs, and it will most certainly increase property values there,” he added. “It will do nothing but help Bristol and all the surrounding areas. The bottom line is that we will all benefit from it.”
Executive Director of the Elizabethton/Carter County Chamber of Commerce agrees. “We are excited to see the advancements and interest in bringing not only an attraction to our region but also employment opportunities,” Joy McCray said.
“Many of our community members commute for work already and Bristol is just a short 20-minute drive from downtown Elizabethton. We look forward to tying in the Hard Rock Resort and Casino into our community as we continue to promote travel to East Tennessee.”
Both Jim McGlothlin, CEO and Chairman of The United Company, and Clyde Stacy, President of Par Ventures, LLC, former high school classmates and the leaders of the project, were on hand at the unveiling of the model of the resort.
Speaking briefly, McGlothlin encouraged those listening to support the project, something he said “will help the whole city.”
Also in Bristol for the unveiling was Sean Caffery, Senior Vice President for Business and Casino Development for Hard Rock International.
“We want to pay homage to the heritage of this town and its history as the birthplace of country music,” Caffery said, gesturing to a number of pieces of memorabilia on display with ties to country music and local artists.
He described the resort in more detail, explaining that the site was ideal for the resort because the project will include almost a million square feet of actual structure underneath the buildings, and said much of the infrastructure was already in place.
“This will be a $400 million expansion,” Caffery said. “It will take the existing facility — we are going to utilize the main components of the mall — and will include a hotel tower with over 350 hotel rooms with capacity to ‘expand well beyond that.’”
The resort will also include a “legendary” pool with an outdoor live concert area. Restaurants will include some local food, as well as some new-to-the-area steak houses and sushi restaurants. A live indoor entertainment venue will be located on the backside of the resort with seating for 3,200.
Additionally the resort will feature an outdoor amphitheater with room for 20,000.
“We won’t just have a basic hotel, casino and restaurants,” Caffery said. “We will have sports, e-sports and entertainment. There will be something for everyone, ages 8 to 80.”
The 3-dimensional model and renderings of the project, as well the music memorabilia, will be on display through 3 p.m. on Saturday, September 19.