With on line casino, Danville officers wager on extra use of outside facilities | Enterprise Native

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JOHN R. CRANE Danville Register & Bee

With the upcoming Caesars Virginia Casino expected to attract up to 2 million visitors per year, Danville officials anticipate increased use of the city’s outdoor recreational facilities.

That could mean more hikers and other users on the city’s popular Riverwalk Trail, and additional visitors to other places like Danville’s parks.

The average stay for a traveler in the Southern Virginia area is 3.2 nights, spending $632 per trip, said Danville tourism manager Lisa K. Meriwether, citing information from Virginia Tourism Corp.

Most of these travelers are visiting friends and family, while 14% travel here for entertainment, she added.

“We also know that 8% of these visitors enjoy our destination’s outdoor recreation facilities,” said Meriwether. “Once Caesars Resort opens, it means more visitors will enjoy our award-winning 11.5-mile Riverwalk Trail, Dan Daniel Memorial Park and Anglers Ridge’s 35-mile mountain bike trails, which are among the top 10 of the bike lanes belong to Virginia.”

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The city’s other outdoor recreation options include Ballou Park, which features tennis courts, a nature trail and disc golf. Dan Daniel Memorial Park features a skate park, 400-foot zipline, high ropes course, Riverwalk Trail access, playing fields, and singletrack.

Other parks in the city include:

  • Coates Park and Coates Bark Park.
  • Evans Park.
  • More than 25 neighborhood parks with playground equipment.
  • Abreu-Grogan Park with boat rentals.
  • The Danville Art Trail.

City officials are also developing Riverfront Park, to be built on approximately 4 acres on Main Street and Memorial Drive between the site of White Mill and the King Memorial Bridge.

The park is expected to be a regional draw for residents in Southside Virginia and North Carolina.

As for the casino, originally scheduled for December 2023, completion at the former Dan River Inc. site in Schoolfield has been pushed back to 2024. Caesars Entertainment officials cited supply chain and labor issues as reasons for delaying completion of the project.

Caesars Virginia plans include a $500 million, 500-room resort-casino inspired by the local landscape. There will also be a spa, pool area and fitness center.

The casino will feature more than 1,400 slots and table games, Caesars Sportsbook and WSOP Poker Room, a 25-table live poker room named after the legendary World Series of Poker and bearing the spirit of the legendary World Series of Poker, Caesars said Entertainment.

40,000 square feet of meeting and convention space and a venue for up to 2,500 guests. There will also be restaurants and bars. In addition to 1,300 operational jobs, 900 jobs will be filled in the construction industry.

Caesars Virginia Casino is expected to generate approximately $38 million in annual tax revenue for the city. The Investing in Danville Committee was formed to make recommendations on how best to spend that income and suggested a significant portion of the money be dedicated to improving infrastructure, said Ken Larking, Danville city manager.

“The City Council has made it a priority to invest in neighborhood parks and community parks in Danville,” Larking said. “I expect the focus will be on creating and enhancing great public spaces like our existing parks, the Riverwalk Trail and creating new recreational facilities.”

Danville Parks and Recreation Director Bill Sgrinia said he wasn’t sure how the casino would affect use of the city’s outdoor recreation facilities.

“We don’t really know what impact the casino will have,” Sgrinia said.

As for current usage, there’s no telling how many people are using the city’s parks and other outdoor opportunities, he said.

“We don’t have the means to count it accurately,” Sgrinia said.

Meriwether will work to commercialize existing tourism assets, including outdoor recreation opportunities, Larking pointed out.

“Hopefully the many visitors who come to our community to visit the resort will find our open spaces as an attraction worth visiting while they are here and will result in an extended stay or future stay in Danville,” said Larking.

However, when it comes to tourism overall, the casino’s presence can’t hurt, officials say.

“There is no question that Caesars Virginia in Danville will positively impact tourism in the region,” Meriwether said.