Rev. Al Sharpton recently caught up with Urban One CEO Alfred Liggins to discuss the branded casino proposals for the city of Richmond, Virginia.
What started out with six companies competing for one contract has now been whittled down to two: Urban One’s proposal on the Southside of Richmond near the Philip Morris cigarette manufacturing complex along with the Cordish Companies’ proposal in the Scott’s Addition district of the city.
Sharpton took the opportunity to enlighten his radio show listeners about the Cordish family’s relationships and their company ties to Republican causes.
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Reed Cordish, the son of millionaire business owner David Cordish, served as a senior aide to former President Donald Trump. His wife, Maggie Cordish, served as White House advisor.
“It would seem ironic to me if they were able to benefit in a city with a large percentage of Democrats and blacks,” Sharpton said to Liggins. “We’re seeing a lot of companies move out of doing business with those entities that are supporting voter suppression and things that are antithetical to the interests of the community.”
NOTE: The Cordish family has donated to both the Democratic and Republican parties in the past.
A little more than a year ago, the Virginia general assembly started the process of legalizing gambling in the Commonwealth and Urban One saw an opportunity for African Americans to get involved as they have in other states. Urban One, which is already invested in Maryland with MGM National Harbor, looks to bring nearly 5,000 jobs to the southside of Richmond, which is about 70% minority and doesn’t have the amenities like restaurants and entertainment that other parts of the city do.
“Richmond doesn’t get a lot of top-notch entertainment on a consistent, consistent basis,” Liggins said. “The branded resort will be able to bring that with a 250-room state-of-the-art resort hotel with spas and other amenities. This is going to be a tourism magnet for the entire country. It’s going to be a world-class resort.”
The state of Virginia approved plans to open five casinos in majority-Black cities. Urban One is the only Black-owned entity that expressed interest in casino development.
Go to Page 2 for Part 2 of Rev. Al Sharpton’s interview with Urban One CEO Alfred Liggins.
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READ THE FULL TRANSCRIPT BELOW:
LIGGINS ON CASINO PROJECT:
- About a little over a year ago, the Virginia general assembly was legalizing gambling in the Commonwealth, and I saw an opportunity for African Americans to get involved as they have in other states.
- We’re invested in Maryland with MGM National Harbor.
- And in this case, in Virginia, it was not in the legislation, so Urban One lobbied heavily to get there to be some sort of inclusive language that would allow for proposals such as we’re putting forth in the city of Richmond.
- We actually got the Richmond Virginia process liberated, so it could be a competitive process. And we have put forth a proposal, which we think is historic and unique for a branded casino resort that is actually in Southside Richmond, near the famous Philip Morris Factory in an industrial area that’s away from neighborhoods but a close enough distance for our community to work.
- This area is 70% minority, it doesn’t have the amenities like restaurants and entertainment that other parts of the city do. We’re very much bringing jobs, entertainment and opportunity to this area of Richmond, but it’s also going to be a casino for all of Richmond.
- We’re partnering with Live Nation for a 3,000 seat theater to bring 200 shows a year of entertainment. Richmond doesn’t get a lot of top-notch entertainment on a consistent basis, but the ONE branded resort will be able to bring that with a 250 room state-of-the-art resort hotel with spas and other amenities.
- We’re also proposing to bring 12 local Richmond restaurant tours, local craft breweries and wineries that lead into the Richmond culinary scene. Richmond is completely known for its fine dining and great restaurants.
- We’ve partnered with 50 local investors because I’ve always believed that the local population should benefit from these economic opportunities. And so I worked really hard to find people who wanted to be involved. And it’s from all walks of life. It’s not just successful businessmen, it’s community activists, etc.
- Not only is the branded casino going to bring nearly 2,000 jobs, but the jobs are going to offer profit-sharing, which is unheard of in the casino industry.
- So everybody who works at ONE Casino and Resort will actually benefit from the success and be an owner. So the project is really unprecedented and will be a significant economic development opportunity in Richmond.
- It’s a win for Richmond, which I’m very excited about. The revenues generated from it will go for public safety, putting money into schools, affordable housing, and a lot of the priorities that the city desperately wants to have resources and funding for.
- The process started off with six companies competing for it and now it’s down to two, our proposal in southside, and another proposal that is in an area called Scott’s Addition, which is in more of a restaurant, entertainment district near the ballpark. That project is sponsored by the Cordish companies. And so the city is analyzing both of our projects to make a decision as to which area that they want this Casino in, and it’s going to come down to benefits to the city and also how they want to spur economic development throughout the city.
- This is going to be a tourism magnet for the entire country. It’s going to be a world-class resort. We’re going to build a 15,000 square foot soundstage, where we’re going to make film and TV content for TV One and CLEO.
- I want the entire country to patronize the city of Richmond and this unique and exciting resort. It’ll be something that we can all be proud of and we’re thankful for the opportunity to be able to make this presentation.
SHARPTON ON CORDISH:
Let me say this about Cordish. And this is me talking for me not necessarily for those in Richmond or Mr. Liggins. Cordish, the son of the head of Cordish, worked for Donald Trump and Cordish has always supported Republican causes. It would seem ironic to me if they were able to benefit in a city with a large percentage of Democrats and Blacks at a time when we’re seeing companies move out of doing business with those entities that are supporting voter suppression and supporting things that are antithetical to the interests of the community. Like Major League Baseball and others just did with Georgia. So it would seem ironic if Richmond would get in bed with Cordish but we’ll see.
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