Bristol Hard Rock Hotel & Casino unveils new 3D model of resort Thursday morning

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BRISTOL, Va. (WJHL) – Officials with the proposed Hard Rock Hotel & Casino are showing the Bristol, Virginia community a new look at the planned resort.

Officials unveiled the new 3-D model of the casino and hotel.

“To me it’s beyond imagination that we could have this come to Bristol,” said Jim McGlothlin, a developer for the Hard Rock project.

Before the casino and hotel can be built, it must be approved by a referendum vote on November 3.

Sean Caffery, Senior Vice President of Business & Casino Development for Hard Rock International said construction will cost an excess of $350 million.

“Once you have the construction costs as well, we anticipate another $16-21 million of additional impact directly to the city itself. We’ve got over 2,000 jobs that are directly related,” said Caffery.

McGlothlin called Hard Rock Bristol ‘a grand slam.’

“No question about it. It’s not a single, it’s not a homerun, it’s a grand slam,” he said.

Hard Rock officials emphasized the development would involve much more than a casino. The 3D model shows a hotel with a rooftop bar and a cabana-flanked resort pool.

On the other side of the property are concert venues for big-name acts.

“We like to have things like Hard Rock Live. That’s 3,200 seats of indoor entertainment. With a dual-sided stage that opens up to an amphitheater with capacity for about 20,000,” said Caffery.

McGlothlin said the concerts could draw audiences from around the country.

“I mean, Garth Brooks is not coming to Bristol unless we have this entertainment center,” he said.

Seven restaurants and four bars are planned, plus retail shops. There will also be areas for sports betting, golf simulators, and a racing facility for children.

“So if your children and you want to come and do the sports experience or lay at the pool, you want to go to dinner with your family, we certainly offer that capability,” said Caffery.

Hard Rock executives are confident the former Bristol Mall can be transformed.

“There certainly is, as you look around, some elements that need significant improvement. But we’re in the business of transforming properties,” Caffery said.

If the project is approved at the November 3rd referendum it will take three to six months to license. It could take over two years to complete construction. Caffery said in the meantime, entertainment and food options could be offered at a temporary facility around 90 to 100 days after the licensing period.

McGlothlin says the project is needed more than ever in wake of the economic downturn from COVID-19. He says visitors will bring business far beyond Hard Rock.

“They’ll probably buy new cars. They’ll go to the lake and rent boats. They’ll go to Barter Theater. They’ll go to Bristol’s country museum. They’ll go to NASCAR races,” he said. “It’ll just be like having a continuous Rhythm and Roots. Because we’ll have something going on here every day.”

He hopes the resort will inspire college-aged residents to return to Bristol.

“I hope parents join me in being thankful we can bring back kids to work here. And other businesses will follow this of course,” McGlothlin said.

The model will be on display to the public until September 19.

You can watch our live stream of the press conference below:

The resort also released new renderings of the proposed casino and hotel.

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