Cherokee Nation partners with Cowboys/Yankees-backed Legends for Pope County casino bid

by Paul Gatling ([email protected]) 2,275 views 

Oklahoma-based Cherokee Nation Businesses (CNB) will have an Arkansas connection in its proposal to build a casino in Pope County.

CNB announced Tuesday (June 11) it is partnering with hospitality company Legends in its bid to gain the sole license to build a casino and hotel complex in Russellville.

Legends is a stadium-management company controlled by the Dallas Cowboys and New York Yankees. The business was founded in 2008 by Arkansas native and Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones and the late George Steinbrenner, former owner of the New York Yankees.

According to a news release issued Tuesday (June 11), Legends will “manage the process for the design and development of the complex, conceive the culinary experience and help CNB to monetize the guest experience for non-gaming attractions.”

In November, Arkansas voters approved Issue 4, now Amendment 100, to allow for expanded casino operations at Oaklawn (Garland Co.), Southland (Crittenden Co.) and new casinos in Pope and Jefferson counties.

There were five bids submitted for the one gaming license that will be granted for Pope County. The CEOs of two of those bids appeared on a recent episode of Talk Business & Politics to tout their proposals.

The Arkansas Racing and Gaming Commission will meet later this month for first consideration of those proposals.

“We are excited to have Legends involved in the process,” said Stephen Jones, Jerry Jones’ son and executive vice president, CEO and director of player personnel for the Dallas Cowboys. “It is very important to us because of the family history and connection we have to Arkansas. Legends was founded on the principle of creating a superior guest experience during game day, and we look forward to bringing that expertise to the state of Arkansas.”

The location for the proposed Cherokee Nation casino development is in Russellville on approximately 135 acres off of Interstate 40 along Nob Hill Road, between Weir Road on the west and Alaskan Trail on the east, according to the release.

The project will be completed in phases, according to a release. The first phase includes Legends’ designs and elements for the casino, hotel and curated culinary experience. The second phase will focus on incorporating lifestyle and entertainment amenities, with an emphasis on creating family-friendly entertainment options. The final phase will include additional retail, dining and hotel concepts.

More details about the project will be released later, according to the release.

“Entering into this partnership with the globally recognized team at Legends is a game-changer,” Shawn Slaton, CEO of Cherokee Nation Businesses, said in a statement. “They bring a wealth of experience having worked with premier venues across professional sports, live events and collegiate partners, including the University of Arkansas, AT&T Stadium in Dallas, Ultimate Fighting Championship and Live Nation amphitheaters.

“We are committed to earning the letters of support from local elected officials and look forward to unveiling our plans to the community in the near future.”