Opening of Hard Rock casino in Gary delayed

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By Crusader Staff Report

The $300 million Hard Rock Casino in Gary will not open at the end of the year as originally planned, Spectacle Entertainment officials recently said in several news reports.

Six months after its celebrated groundbreaking, Spectacle Entertainment officials said construction of the casino is taking shape, but the project will not be ready by the original opening date of December 31.

Officials now expect the casino to open in the first quarter of 2021.

“The December 31 opening, frankly that’s not going to happen. That’s just the way things go,” said John Keeler, vice president and general counsel of Spectacle Entertainment LLC, in one news report. “I think it would be safer to say sometime in first quarter, it just depends.”

Keeler said footings for the Hard Rock casino have been poured, steel framing is in place and the roof is on. The skin of the building is in place, but Keeler said a lot more work still needs to be done. Soon, he said they’ll seek bids for interior work.

“In all the troubles we’ve all gone through in 2020, this is a bright spot,” he said. “It started in earnest before the disease came along and fortunately, the type of construction work didn’t require people to be in close proximity.” Keeler said an executive order from Governor Eric J. Holcomb allowed work to continue, despite the April statewide shutdown.

The Hard Rock Casino will be located near the Borman Expressway at Burr Street and 29th Avenue. In addition to a Hard Rock casino, the facility will include a Hard Rock Café, a Hard Rock Live concert venue, restaurants, and bars on 40 acres.

The Hard Rock Casino will have up to 2,764 gaming positions. The Majestic Star’s boats currently combine to hold 1,620 slot machines and 63 table games. Horseshoe Hammond, Indiana’s largest casino, located about six miles west of Gary, features 2,173 slots and 150 table games.

Spectacle Entertainment paid $20 million to the state to relocate the casino on land.

The project is expected to create more than 1,000 construction jobs and about 2,000 casino jobs.

The casino will more than double the 800 current employees at the two Majestic Star casino boats.

At the groundbreaking ceremony in January, Gary Chamber of Commerce CEO Chuck Hughes said, “This may be one of the largest businesses that we will have in the community, and I see the ability to have other businesses be offshoots of this.”

The casino replaces the two Majestic Star casino boats Spectacle acquired in 2018, which were docked in Buffington Harbor in Lake Michigan. Spectacle agreed to return one of Gary’s two licenses back to the state and pay a $20 million relocation fee. It purchased property along Interstate 80-94, off Burr Street.

An agreement forged by the company with former Gary Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson will route 0.5 percent of the Spectacle Jack’s Terre Haute casino’s adjusted gross receipts back to Gary for 10 years.

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