The city of Norfolk may be able to offer gambling sooner than planned if a new idea gains any traction among city council members. The HeadWaters Resort & Casino developers want to create a temporary facility while the new project is in the works, offering gambling inside Harbor Park. The plan is to create a temporary gaming location inside the Norfolk Boxing Center and Hits at the Park restaurant.
The city owns Harbor Park, and council members have started to discuss the casino plans with developers. March 4 marked the annual retreat for city officials and the idea was shared at that time. The idea is in the early stages, with no consideration yet on how much the project would cost or what types of games would be available within the temporary site.
Another Try at a Temporary Venue
The idea is not the first time that a temporary facility plan has been brought up. President Ken Young, of Norfolk Tides, has talked in the past about providing a gaming component for the Hits at the Park venue. Once sports betting was legalized in April 2020, discussions began regarding bringing this type of activity to the restaurant.
However, the sports betting plan didn’t get off the ground due to the Virginia Lottery. The board of the lottery must provide a license to casino operators before gaming can begin. That has yet to happen for any of the announced casino operators. HeadWaters cannot move forward with a temporary venue or the main casino until licensing is awarded.
The HeadWaters Resort & Casino is a project led by the Pamunkey Indian Tribe. In January 2020, the tribe signed an agreement to buy land located on the east side of Harbor Park. The casino will cost $500 million to create and offer a four-diamond, full-service convention hotel along with a large casino with as many as 3,000 slot games plus 150 table games.
First Phase of HeadWaters Coming Soon
The construction process of HeadWaters has yet to start but officials say the first phase will be completed by next year. Along with licensing, another issue surrounding the project is the boxing center. Norfolk city officials must find a new spot for the boxing center before a temporary casino can move into the facility. The center has been closed for quite some time, shutting down when the pandemic began.
Darrell Crittendon, the Director of Parks and Recreation, suggested that the boxing property move to the Ingleside Recreation Center. The suggestion was reviewed but council members said to wait on any move for now.
For now, the project is on hold until the Norfolk City Council decides to approve the project. In late April, the Planning Commission meeting has the temporary casino plans on the agenda. Hopefully, approval will be given so the space can offer gaming ahead of the main venue’s opening.