Don H. Barden
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Donald Hamilton Barden (December 20, 1943 – May 19, 2011) was an American casino executive.
Barden was the Manager, Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer of The Majestic Star Casino, LLC since its formation, with responsibility for key policy making functions. Since their formation, Barden was also President and Chief Executive Officer of Investor and Manager of Barden Colorado Blackhawk, Colorado, Barden Mississippi Tunica, Mississippi, and Barden Nevada Las Vegas, Nevada; and Chairman and President of BDI. Barden also served as a director of Majestic Investor Capital since its formation.
Additionally, he was the President and Chief Executive Officer of a group of other companies he owned and/or operated. Over the past 30 years, Barden had successfully developed, owned and operated many business enterprises in various industries including real estate development, casino gaming, broadcasting, cable television and international trade. In 2003, Black Enterprise Magazine selected Barden as Company of the Year. In 2004, Barden received the Trumpet Award for Entrepreneur of the Year.
For years the Barden gambling facility in Gary existed beside another gambling facility belonging to Donald Trump. Barden bought the second facility for a price reflecting historic revenue at a time when several other facilities were opening up in Illinois and Indiana. The result was over extension and the Barden company owning the combined facilities have gone into bankruptcy. The Barden Indiana, Mississippi and Colorado facilities are being turned over to creditors. The Nevada facility and the part ownership in the Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania facilities are separately held and are not part of the bankruptcy.
When one of Barden's companies acquired the Fitzgeralds Las Vegas Casino in Las Vegas he became the first black casino owner in Vegas. In 2007, Barden was awarded the rights to build a Casino in the North Shore Area of Pittsburgh, adjacent to Heinz Field, home of the Pittsburgh Steelers. The selection was made over heavy objections of local taxpayers who preferred another competing offer from Isle of Capri Casinos. That offer would have built a new multi-purpose arena adjacent to a casino complex in the area now occupied by the Civic Arena. Isle of Capri agreed to foot the entire cost of the new complex, valued at the time at 290 million dollars. Barden's selection by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania Gaming Commission forced the city of Pittsburgh and the buildings principal tenant, the Pittsburgh Penguins, to come up with an alternate plan, using taxpayer money to fund the facility.
In 2008, Mr. Barden defaulted on the casino project. He was unable to secure bridge loans that would have permitted work to continue on the North Shore Casino project. Work at the site was stopped for weeks, until another investor could be found. Only after Chicago billionaire Neil Bluhm of JMB Realty bought controlling interest in the project, did work continue. Mr. Barden retained a minority interest in the project.
On May 19, 2011, Don Barden died of lung cancer at the Karmanos Cancer Institute in Detroit, Michigan. He was 67. Earlier that year, his wife Bella had filed for legal separation, saying in court documents that her 67-year-old husband was so sick with cancer that he could not make his own business and financial decisions.
- Nick Bunkley (May 19, 2011). "Don Barden, a Leading Black Businessman, Dies at 67". The New York Times.
- "Don Barden, The New Black Face Of Vegas". Retrieved 2008-03-05.[dead link]