‘The Rose’ That Grew From Garbage: Colonial Downs Looks to Build Dumfries HHR Resort

Written By Dann Stupp on February 16, 2021Last Updated on August 4, 2022

Colonial Downs wants to bring “The Rose,” a super-sized edition of its Rosie’s Gaming Emporiums, to the northern Virginia town of Dumfries.

Colonial Downs officials announced that they will present plans for the historical horse racing (HHR) resort during Tuesday’s Dumfries City Council meeting.

The first full-fledged Virginia casinos will begin opening their doors in 2022 and 2023, following recent legalization. However, Rosie’s Gaming Emporiums operate a bit differently. Essentially, they’re slot parlors without slot machines. Not traditional slot machines, anyway.

But “The Rose” will differ from most gambling establishments, even those other HHR facilities.

After all, Colonial Downs would build the $389 million facility on top of a landfill.

The Rose takes Rosie’s to next level

Details of the project are available in the lengthy agenda for Tuesday’s Dumfries City Council meeting.

The proposed resort would reside atop the Potomac Landfill right off I-95. Quite simply, residents have long hated the eyesore. They successfully lobbied for the landfill, which is used primarily for construction debris, to close in 2036.

However, if The Rose is approved, a groundbreaking would take place in August and accelerate the process. The resort would then open in January 2023.

Colonial Downs currently operates a Rosie’s location in Dumfries about two miles from the landfill. However, as part of the recent Virginia casino legislation, Humfries is permitted to expand its current Rosie’s location.

Since its opening last month, that HHR parlor and on-site racebook in Dumfries have generated 21,000 customer visits and created 100 jobs. However, if The Rose opens, the current Rosie’s location would become a workforce development center for the larger resort.

Rosie’s locations also operate in New Kent, Vinton, Richmond, and Hampton. However, the new resort would dwarf the size of those Rosie’s locations. The Rose would feature:

  • 50,000 square feet of gaming space
  • 7,000 square feet of meeting and event space
  • 200 hotel rooms
  • 1,500-capacity theater
  • Eight bars and restaurants, including a 250-seat sports bar

It would also include a 79-acre park with an amphitheater, hiking trails, sports fields, and general green spaces. Essentially, in addition to hosting The Rose, the landfill site would also become a key outdoors space in Dumfries.

The Rose’s impact on Dumfries jobs and tax revenue

In its presentation materials, Colonial Downs touted the economic impact of the project.

That impact would boost the local workforce and local economy, to the tune of $48 million in annual tax revenue, including:

  • $30.5 million for Virginia
  • $10.9 million for Dumfries
  • $6.7 million for Prince William County

Officials say The Rose would also create:

  • 640 jobs
  • Guaranteed minimum wage of $15/hour
  • An average salary of $47,000

They also say there will be “many upward mobility opportunities,” with 96 professional and management jobs with an average salary of $70,000 and full benefits.

Just as importantly, though, The Rose could siphon off business from nearby MGM National Harbor, as well as five other Maryland casinos.

Competition for MGM National Harbor

The $1.4 billion MGM National Harbor is located in Oxon Hill, Maryland.

The MGM Resorts International property is a short drive across the Potomac River for many North Virginians and Washington, DC residents.

In an independent economic impact study of The Rose, Dr. Terry Clower, the Northern Virginia Chair and Professor of Public Policy at George Mason University, said:

“The resort will provide gaming entertainment options for Northern Virginia patrons with high-quality amenities and entertainment. This will allow Virginia to recapture a sizable share of the entertainment spending that currently goes to Maryland gaming venues.”

Additionally, casinos will soon open in Bristol, Danville, Norfolk, and Portsmouth. The closest possible casino to The Rose would be in Richmond. However, the Virginia capital 80 miles from Dumfries, and Richmond voters still need to formally approve the project.

The Rose wouldn’t be a traditional casino with table games, slot machines, poker, keno, and other attractions. However, the super-sized HHR facility would give Northern Virginians an alternative close to home.

Regardless, despite the initial conversation about The Rose that’s planned for Tuesday’s city council meeting, a formal vote isn’t expected until late spring or early summer.

Photo by Anatol1973 | Dreamstime.com
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Dann Stupp

Dann Stupp is a longtime sports journalist who’s written and edited for The Athletic, USA Today, ESPN, MLB.com and other outlets. He lives in Lexington, Virginia.

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