Renewed Lease Clarifies Future Plans For Norfolk Virginia Casino

Written By J.R. Duren on January 12, 2023
The Pamunkey Tribe recently received good news regarding Norfolk's Headwaters Resort & Casino project

Norfolk’s Headwaters Resort & Casino project is starting the new year with some good news.

Recently, the Norfolk City Council approved a lease extension for the Norfolk Tides minor league baseball team. That approval includes allowances for the new Virginia casino, which will be built on part of the Tides’ parking lot.

The allowances are a nice win for the casino after a year in which the casino’s plans to open a temporary casino fell through.

Once sold, the Virginia casino land will be off Tides’ lease

The new lease between the city and the Tides includes several important details about Headwaters’ future. First, while the casino is being built, construction workers can use part of the Tides’ parking lot to stage materials, vehicles, and machines.

Second, the city has sole rights over any revenue generated from naming rights from Headwaters or its owner, the Pamunkey Tribe.

Third, once the casino buys the land from the city, the land will move off of the Tides’ lease. The city plans to sell to the casino an area east of the outfield fence that includes a picnic area and the visiting team’s bullpen.

City responsible for replacing amenities lost to Virginia casino construction

Because the stadium is surrendering those amenities, the lease requires the city to replace the bullpen before the land is sold to the casino. The city must also replace the picnic area within two years of the casino buying the land.

Also, if the construction infringes on the stadium’s scoreboard and video boards, the city will need to relocate them.

Lease violation led to nixed temporary casino plans

Like other Virginia casinos, Headwaters planned to open a temporary location in the Tides’ stadium while it built its permanent facility.

However, the referendum that allowed a casino in Norfolk included specific rules for where the casino could operate.

The referendum required the casino to be located at 200 Park Avenue. The Tides’ stadium’s address is 150 Park, which means referendum rules ban a casino at the property.

City leaders knew this, but rather than abide by the referendum rules, they tried to cut a corner, according to The Virginian-Pilot.

“The city changed the address of Harbor Park baseball stadium in an apparent attempt to circumvent language in the casino referendum that Norfolk voters approved,” the paper wrote.

In short, leaders thought they could change the stadium’s address without anyone knowing. But people noticed.

And because of that, the casino lost out on a chance to open an in-stadium gaming area with 628 gaming machines and a 130-seat restaurant, The Virginian-Pilot noted.

What’s next for Headwaters casino?

In the short term, the Virginia casino will begin construction on its temporary and permanent casinos. And, like other casino openings across the country, the property will hold job fares to build up its workforce.

It should take 18-24 months for the tribe to build the permanent casino. The temporary facility should open much sooner than that.

The permanent casino will include:

  • A 300-room hotel
  • A live music and entertainment venue
  • Multiple restaurants
  • Indoor and outdoor pools
  • A spa

The property will generate 2,000 temporary construction jobs and 2,500 full-time employees, according to PlayVirginia.com.

Photo by Pamunkey Indian Tribe/PlayUSA
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J.R. Duren

J.R. Duren has covered the gambling beats for more than a dozen states for Catena Media since 2015. His past reporting experience includes two years at the Villages Daily Sun, and he is a first-place winner at the Florida Press Club Excellence in Journalism Contest.

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