Radio One founder Cathy Hughes joins MGM in Maryland casino bid for National Harbor

Nevada-based gaming giant MGM Resorts International announced Friday that it will bring Radio One founder Cathy Hughes and her son on as investors in their plans for a $925­­ million resort casino at National Harbor.

MGM is one of three firms bidding to land a single casino license for Prince George’s County and disclosed the partnership with Hughes in presenting its plans to the Maryland Video Lottery Facility Location Committee.

Hughes and her son, Alfred C. Liggins III, plan to invest $40 million in the project, adding a well-known African American ownership stake to MGM’s casino proposal.

“Radio One is a great partner because it has the capability to add a diverse perspective to our management of the project, help us communicate our vision to the community and give us the ability to build brand awareness in the various markets where they have a presence,” Jim Murren, chairman and chief executive of MGM Resorts International, said in a news release.

Hughes rose to prominence in Washington after working her way up at Howard University’s radio station in the 1970s and going on to found the largest African American-owned radio broadcasting company in the country. Radio One, headquartered in Silver Spring, owns or operates 54 radio stations in 16 urban markets across the country. The TV One cable network, in which Radio One owns a majority interest, reaches 58 million homes.

Lorenzo Creighton, president and chief operating officer of MGM’s National Harbor project, said Hughes and Liggins, Radio One’s chief executive and president, had “transformed one radio station into a national broadcast operation as well as building one of the fastest growing, most successful cable TV networks in the last decade. That’s the kind of local partner we want.”

MGM’s plan calls for a casino-resort overlooking the Capital Beltway, with 3,600 slots, 140 table games (including poker), a 300-suite hotel, 35,000 square feet of meeting space, a spa and a theater.

The proposal also includes seven restaurants, including those headed by Food Network stars Gina and Pat Neely, New York chef Andrew Carmellini and brothers Bryan and Michael Voltaggio.

The company pledged to create 4,000 permanent jobs, though officials did not immediately designate how many would be full time, as well as the 3,500 jobs it projected in the area around the casino.

MGM is the last of the three teams to present to the commission. On Monday, Penn National Gaming offered to direct hundreds of millions of dollars to the state and county should it be granted the license for a $700­­ million Hollywood Casino at Rosecroft Raceway.

On Wednesday, owners of the Parx casino outside Philadelphia pledged to fund $100 million in improvements to Indian Head Highway and build an $800 million casino in Fort Washington.

Follow Jonathan O’Connell on Twitter: @oconnellpostbiz

Jonathan O'Connell has covered land use and development in the Washington area for more than five years.
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