Detroit, MI-Widely known and respected for being the first African American Las Vegas casino owner and major cable franchise owner, Don Barden died early this morning at the Barbara Ann Karmanos Cancer Institute in Detroit. He once partnered with the rich and famous, including a failed bid in the lateto open a $1 billion theme park resort in Detroit with late megastar Michael Jackson in exchange for a city casino license.
Their effort failed when baptist ministers didn't want the casinos in the city. His vision to own a casino never left. And he wanted the casino to be in Detroit, but then-Mayor Dennis Archer rejected Barden’s attempt to get one of the city’s three casino licenses in 1996. Two years later Barden teamed up with Jackson in a second, ultimately unsuccessful attempt to get a casino license. In return, they pledged to build a $1 billion theme park and resort near the Ambassador Bridge.
Barden said in 2004 that he harbored anger over the denial of a casino license.
Barden is a respected name in Detroit from the recognition of Bartoncompany. Barden had been fighting lung cancer for sometime. Detroit Mayor said in a statement: "Don was a stalwart leader and businessman in this community, as well as a friend. We were aware of his longtime illness, and dreaded this day. We send our condolences to his family."
Wayne County Executive Robert Ficano recalled Barden as a successful businessman who maintained a concern for the welfare of Detroit.
Barden started Barden Cablevision and 1979 and built it into one of the nation’s biggest black-owned businesses, selling it in 1994 to Comcast. In 2001 he became the first black person to own a Las Vegas Casino. Barden, born in Inkster, Michigan in 1943 as the ninth of 13 children.. Wendell Anthony said, “It’s one thing to be successful; it’s more important to be significant. Don Barden was significant as it relates to setting an example of exemplary African American entrepreneurship.”
Barden was 67.