Former NFL football player Herschel Walker speaks to airmen Thursday, March 22, 2012, at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla. Walker spoke with the troops about resiliency and mental health issues. (AP Photo/Northwest Florida Daily News, Mark Kulaw)
NORCROSS -- A football legend is the next partner of a proposed Gwinnett tourist attraction.
Herschel Walker, the University of Georgia Heisman Trophy winner, plans to open a restaurant and sports bar in the mixed-use entertainment complex proposed along Interstate 85 at the OFS plant near Jimmy Carter Boulevard.
The complex is the idea of Atlanta developer Dan O'Leary who proposes a gaming hall with 7,500 video lottery terminals, a luxury hotel, spa, performance venue and restaurants. The idea hinges on a proposal to allow video lottery terminals, similar in looks to slot machines, which O'Leary says could bolster the lottery-funded HOPE Scholarship program.
Both the Georgia Lottery Board and Gwinnett County Commission would have to approve the Norcross-area project before construction begins.
"As a Georgia resident, father and businessman, I want to combine my entrepreneurial focus with my desire to sustain the HOPE scholarship and help Georgia students go to college," Walker said in a press release announcing his partnership with O'Leary. "I am excited to be part of such a worthwhile project while sharing my love of Georgia, football and food."
O'Leary plans to invest $1 billion in the development, which he expects to create 2,500 jobs and $350 million in annual revenue for the HOPE scholarship.
Walker's restaurant and sports bar will feature Southern food as well as memorabilia from the athlete's college and professional career.
"Herschel Walker is not only an excellent athlete, but he represents the true Georgia spirit. He grew up in rural Georgia as one of seven kids in a blue collar family, worked hard in high school, and then went on to excel in college and professionally," O'Leary said in the release. "Everything Herschel does is a success and we are excited to have him as part of our team."