Project would be the first Cherokee Nation gaming venture outside Oklahoma
Leaders in Pope County, Arkansas endorsed a proposal from Cherokee Nation Businesses to build a casino and hotel complex in the county, which would become Arkansas’s fourth casino. After five days of teaser ads, Cherokee Nation Businesses and Legends were able to unveil their plans for a proposed resort and casino in Pope County.
The $225 million Legends Resort & Casino Arkansas will bring “world-class entertainment to the region,” was how the ad campaign lobbied on behalf of the project.
Following a brief debate, the Pope County Quorum Court voted last Tuesday 14, to support the proposed Legends Resort and Casino, endorsing the proposal despite a county ordinance that would require officials to seek voter approval before backing a casino proposal.
The Cherokee Nation Businesses would pay a US$38.8 million as an “economic development fee” for the issuance of a casino license from the Arkansas Racing Commission. Arkansas voters legalized casino gambling in 2018 but only at four locations in the state: existing racetracks in Hot Springs and West Memphis and at new sites in Jefferson and Pope counties.
The Legends Resort & Casino Arkansas
If approved, the project would be the first Cherokee Nation gaming venture outside Oklahoma. Some of the proposed amenities include: Approximately 50,000 square feet of gaming space accommodating 1,200 slot machines and 32 table games; A sportsbook located within a high-end sports bar; Luxury hotel with 200 rooms with a resort-style pool, spa and fitness centre; 15,000 square feet of mixed-use conference and entertainment space accommodating 1,000 people; A variety of food options including a food hall, high-end steakhouse, grab & go concept and multiple bar and nightlife options; Outdoor water park; and Outdoor music venue.
“Since submitting our initial application to the Arkansas State Racing Commission in May, we have remained fully committed to the people of Pope County and to taking our proposed development to the next level,” said Shawn Slaton, CEO of Cherokee Nation Businesses. “Today, with much excitement, we are pleased to unveil our plans. We’ve embraced the community’s feedback and are confident this resort destination brings something for everyone.”
The Legends Resort & Casino Arkansas will be designed by international firm HKS Architects and will showcase architecture influenced by the natural landscape of the Arkansas River Valley, the group said. The development is planned for Russellville, Arkansas, on approximately 130 acres north of Interstate 40 along Nob Hill Road, between Weir Road and Alaskan Trail.
Legends is a stadium-management, sports, and live entertainment company founded in 2008 by Arkansas native and Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones and the late George Steinbrenner, former owner of the New York Yankees.
“From the onset, our goal in partnering with CNB has been to create a resort that truly offers something for everyone and provides an unmatched guest experience,” said Bill Rhoda, President of Legends Global Planning. “Most importantly, Legends Resort & Casino Arkansas will create a positive economic impact of benefit to Pope County and the state of Arkansas.”
“Our teams at CNB and Legends take pride in being dedicated and trustworthy community partners with the proven experience to make this economic development project a success. We remain committed to earning the letters of support from local elected officials,” Slaton said.