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Hard Rock fans get sneak peek of proposed Virginia project

A 3D model of the proposed Hard Rock development in Bristol, Virginia, was recently unveiled. (Courtesy Hard Rock)

Hard Rock ventures are underway across the globe, even as the hospitality industry has faced new challenges during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Hard Rock International unveiled one of its latest partnerships in mid-September with a public viewing of a 3D model for its proposed Bristol, Virginia, hotel and casino project that would mark the first such project in the state.

The new Hard Rock hotel and casino would be located at the site of the former Bristol Mall – located at 500 Gate City Highway – if voters approve a local referendum on the Nov. 3 ballot.

The Virginia General Assembly and the Bristol City Council had previously authorized to give voters the decision on approval of the project during this year’s general election.

Bristol is the twin city of Bristol, Tennessee – just across the state line. It has been nicknamed the “birthplace of country music.”

The public viewing of the model, and several pieces of country music memorabilia, was gave residents and Hard Rock aficionados an opportunity to see what a finished project would look like.

In addition to the hotel and casino, the development would consist of seven restaurants, four bars, a 3,200-seat Hard Rock Live venue, a 20,000 capacity outdoor entertainment venue, a “country western nightlife experience” and a Hard Rock Cafe with a stage for local and musicians.

The resort would also feature other amenities that are familiar to Hard Rock fans, including a Rock Shop and retail store, Rock Spa and Body Rock fitness center and a convention and meeting space.

HRI said memorabilia pieces at the site would include country music legends Johnny Cash, Loretta Lynn, Garth Brooks, Taylor Swift, Carrie Underwood, Buck Owens and Hank Williams.

The Bristol project would also include an e-sports simulator – a form of multiplayer video game sports competition.

HRI expects the project would attract more than four million visitors annually and be an economic driver for the city and the region.

Using the formidable draw of the Hard Rock brand, officials said the draw for both residents and tourists would generate millions of dollars in new tax revenue for the city and create thousands of new jobs.

“This model is a symbol of our commitment to residents that Hard Rock is prepared to invest in Bristol and bring a world-class destination resort that will make the community proud,” Sean Caffery, senior vice president of casino and business development for HRI, said in a statement. “Hard Rock is looking forward to being a part of the community, history, people and culture of Bristol.”

HRI said there would be more dates announced for those wanting to publically view the 3D model and country music memorabilia at the site.

Partners on the project with HRI include the United Co. and Par Ventures.

There are Hard Rock venues in more than 70 countries. Its two most successful flagship properties are in Tampa, and in Hollywood, Florida – where the world’s first Guitar Hotel opened in 2019.

The Seminole Tribe of Florida is the parent company of HRI.

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Damon Scott
Damon is a multimedia journalist for the Seminole Tribune. He has previously been an editor and reporter for digital and print media in Florida and his home state of New Mexico. Send him an email at