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New Gary casino to carry 'Hard Rock' brand, theme

New Gary casino to carry 'Hard Rock' brand, theme


GARY — The new land-based casino in Gary is going to rock.

Spectacle Entertainment announced Sunday that it has signed a joint venture agreement with Hard Rock International to apply the Hard Rock brand, theme and attitude to the casino that's set to open in coming years adjacent to the Borman Expressway at Burr Street.

"Hard Rock is excited to partner with Spectacle Entertainment to create the first land-based gaming destination, bringing our world-class brand of entertainment to Northwest Indiana and the greater Chicago area," said Jim Allen, Hard Rock International chairman and CEO.

Under the agreement, Hard Rock will manage the Gary casino on Spectacle's behalf. The project size, previously pegged at $300 million, has grown to $400 million as it now will include multiple restaurants and bars, a Hard Rock Cafe and Hard Rock Live, a concert venue for live entertainment.

"We're confident this $400 million investment will serve as a significant catalyst for the continued economic revitalization of Northwest Indiana and the city of Gary," said Rod Ratcliff, Spectacle chairman and CEO.

Ratcliff projects the development will support 1,000 temporary construction-related jobs. He said the new casino and associated amenities — which does not immediately include a hotel — will employ some 2,000 permanent workers when they are complete.

That's more than double the 800 current employees at the two Majestic Star casino boats, which Spectacle acquired in March, that are docked at Gary's Buffington Harbor on Lake Michigan.

Hoosier lawmakers in April authorized the relocation of the Majestic Star as part of a package of regulatory and tax changes aimed at making Indiana's casinos more competitive with gaming destinations in neighboring states, including Illinois, which has since approved new casinos for Chicago and south suburban Cook County.

Under House Enrolled Act 1015, the new Gary casino can have up to 2,764 gaming positions, giving it approximately the same capacity as Hammond's Horseshoe Casino, Indiana's revenue leader, and making it about three-fourths the maximum size of the future Chicago casino.

"We want to thank the General Assembly and the office of Governor Eric Holcomb for approving this project," Ratcliff said.

The Gary Hard Rock casino will join at least 12 other established or under construction Hard Rock casinos located in or near Atlantic City, New Jersey; Biloxi, Mississippi; Hollywood and Tampa, Florida; Lake Tahoe and Las Vegas, Nevada; Sacramento, California; Tulsa, Oklahoma; Sioux City, Iowa; Ottawa and Vancouver, Canada; and Punta Cana, Dominican Republic.

Spectacle also plans to use the Hard Rock brand if it wins the right to open a new casino in Terre Haute, Indiana.

"Hard Rock and Spectacle Entertainment's additional partnership to compete for the Terre Haute site would provide more stability for the economy and workforce in central Indiana, including more than 500 much-needed job opportunities," said Greg Gibson, Spectacle vice president.

Separately, Hard Rock's parent company reportedly is slated to announce Tuesday that it's vying for the new casino license recently established for Rockford, Illinois, which is approximately 120 miles northwest of Gary near Illinois' north-central border with Wisconsin.

Hard Rock began in 1971 as a single restaurant in London, England. It has since grown into a globe-spanning juggernaut of memorabilia-studded restaurants, hotels, casinos, merchandise, landmark buildings and concert venues that celebrate and commemorate music generally, and rock 'n roll performers specifically.

It likely is a familiar name for most Region residents. A Hard Rock Cafe has operated in Chicago since 1986. The Windy City additionally was home to a Hard Rock-branded Michigan Avenue hotel between 2004 and 2017.

There also is a Hard Rock Cafe at the Four Winds Casino just across the Indiana border in New Buffalo, Michigan. The Indianapolis Hard Rock Cafe closed in March after 20 years in business near downtown's Monument Circle.

The Hard Rock brand has been owned since 2007 by the Seminole Tribe of Florida.


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