Vote ‘YES’ for the Richmond Grand Resort and Casino

10/26/2023, 6 p.m.
For the past several weeks, Alfred C. Liggins III, CEO of Urban One, and representatives of Churchill Downs have spoken ...

For the past several weeks, Alfred C. Liggins III, CEO of Urban One, and representatives of Churchill Downs have spoken with church, civic and media organizations about their quest to build a gambling project on Richmond’s South Side.

In stating why Richmond voters should approve their $562 million Richmond Grand Resort and Casino project, their message — and delivery — has been decisive and forthright.

The developers consistently note the project will bring good paying jobs to the Richmond area to the tune of 1,300 new union-backed careers with an average annual salary of $55,000 that includes health care and retirement benefits.

Construction jobs also will be part of the equation, available to employees at all levels of experience and education.

They add that intrinsic goals and values such as providing a better quality of life for all Richmond area residents will be the real payday as the casino developers will invest in Richmond’s children and their futures. With $30 million in annual revenue projected for the city, those funds will be earmarked for better funded schools and services.

There’s more.

The project partners also will contribute $16 million over 10 years to Richmond nonprofits and charities, as well as provide significant funding to support responsible gaming.

A new 55-acre public park, or green space, in South Side will feature bike paths, walking trails, pickleball courts and facilities for community events, sports and family activities.

The project will redevelop a vacant industrial lot in South Richmond, creating the kind of economic activity, foot traffic and environment that makes a neighborhood safer.

The project also will invest millions in public safety around the casino and includes a designated security facility for Richmond Police.

The casino proposal is a private sector project with citywide benefits. The half-billion dollar project will be paid for entirely with private money. There are no tax breaks, incentives or tax dollars being used.

When meeting with members of several civic organizations earlier this week at a Jackson Ward soul food restaurant, Mr. Liggins could barely contain his excitement as he described the benefits, impact and possibilities of the Richmond Grand project.

“When it comes to the employment profile for this resort, 60% of the jobs there will go to Richmonders and 40% of the contracts for building this resort and for operations will go to small, women and minority-owned businesses,” he said.

His words were greeted with loud applause.

Sitting nearby and watching her son with pride was Mr. Liggins’ mother, Cathy L. Hughes, founder and chairperson of Urban One (formerly known as Radio One), the largest African-American owned and operated broadcast company in the United States.

“This is the most significant economic development project in Virginia history for people of color,” Mr. Liggins continued. “The most significant.”

In reminding his audience that the bid to bring a casino to Richmond was defeated two years ago by a tight vote, Mr. Liggins added that many of the same naysayers and opponents to the project are still around. With their paternalistic attitudes on full display, they say the casino would be “bad” for South Side residents, or that the project’s developers “can’t handle” such a massive undertaking.

Mr. Liggins quickly hits the pause button when he hears such nonsense.

South Side residents voted by an 80% margin in support of the casino two years ago, he said. “They want it there because nothing ever comes over there. The building that stands on the proposed casino site is abandoned and the land has been for sale for 10 years.

“The misnomer that it’s not good for you ... it’s kind of disingenuous. That’s why we’re doing our best to tell our story. We’ve got to get it this time. South Side Richmond deserves this development and a city deserves to have balanced economic, fair and equitable development on both sides of the river.”

We at the Richmond Free Press could not agree more. We encourage our readers to Vote “YES” now or on Nov. 7 for Richmond’s own Richmond Grand Resort and Casino.