CNB, Legends propose resort and casino in Arkansas
Cherokee Nation Businesses and Legends unveil their plans to build a resort destination in Pope County. COURTESY
POPE COUNTY, Ark. – Cherokee Nation Businesses and Legends – a global planning, sales and hospitality company – on Aug. 12 announced details of their proposal to build a resort destination in Pope County called Legends Resort & Casino Arkansas.
“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,” CNB CEO Shawn Slaton said in CNB press release. “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.”
According to the release, the name Legends Resort & Casino Arkansas is inspired by the definition of a Legend, and the project developed with the needs of the community in mind.
“Its thoughtfully planned venues and diverse entertainment choices create the perfect setting for guests to feel and be legendary,” the release states. “Throughout the resort and casino property, guests will enjoy a celebration of Arkansas’ legendary figures in sports, music and entertainment; its cuisine; and the landscape of The Natural State.”
Designed by international firm HKS Architects, Legends Resort & Casino Arkansas showcases architecture influenced by the distinctive natural landscape of the Arkansas River Valley, the release states. It also states the development is planned for Russellville, on approximately 130 acres north of Interstate 40 along Nob Hill Road, between Weir Road and Alaskan Trail.
According to the release, the $225 million Legends Resort & Casino Arkansas will include:
• Approximately 50,000 square feet of gaming space accommodating 1,200 slot machines and 32 table games; a sportsbook will be located within a high-end sports bar,
• Luxury hotel with 200 rooms, resort-style pool, spa and fitness center,
• 15,000 square feet of mixed-use conference and entertainment space accommodating 1,000 people,
• Robust culinary experience with a variety of food and beverage options – including a food hall, high-end steakhouse, grab & go concept and multiple bar and nightlife options,
• RV park with 100 spots,
• Outdoor water park providing fun for the entire family, and
• Outdoor music venue with beautiful spots for gathering and entertainment.
The total statewide economic impact of Legends Resort & Casino Arkansas is projected to exceed $5 billion in the first 10 years, the release states. It also states the project is expected to generate more than 1,000 direct jobs, and the estimated timeline for completion would be 18 months.
“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,” Bill Rhoda, Legends Global Planning president, said. “Most importantly, Legends Resort & Casino Arkansas will create a positive economic impact of benefit to Pope County and the state of Arkansas.”
On May 30, Slaton told the Tribal Council’s Executive & Finance Committee that CNB had filed for an Arkansas gaming license in Pope County and analysis indicated such a venue in Russellville would be profitable without impacting the tribe’s Roland casino.
“The applications, ours as well as theirs, will likely be ruled incomplete because the way the constitutional ballot question was set up, you had to have a letter of support from county officials,” Slaton told the committee. “A quorum court judge or quorum court would issue a letter on behalf of the operator to the Arkansas Racing Commission.”
Whether a letter will be issued by Pope County remains cloudy, but Slaton told councilors that legal counsel advised CNB to file.
Pope was one of only four counties considered for gaming in the statewide vote. Crittenden and Garland counties are planning table gaming expansions at the Southland Racing and Oaklawn horse tracks. Pope and Jefferson counties were approved for new gaming facilities.
“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 in the Aug. 12 press release.