Issue: May/June 2012
Three Questions With Jim Allen
Chairman, Hard Rock International
Hard Rock International chairman Jim Allen shared plans for a $275 million entertainment and gaming complex during a mid-April visit to Northfield Park. The unveiling of the new attraction, which will be built next to the harness-racing park’s grandstand, came a month before the May 14 opening of the Horseshoe Casino Cleveland downtown. But Allen is not concerned about competition. “We believe it’s two different markets,” he says. Hard Rock Northfield will feature 2,500 slot machines, a new Hard Rock Café, restaurants, a comedy club and a live music venue.
1. Why Northfield Park?
The state of Ohio is a great opportunity, and we have had many opportunities to get involved with “racinos” around the United States. … Most racetracks were built in the ’70s, ’60s and ’50s. If you look here, you don’t see things all chipped up, you don’t see carpets worn out. I found a level of detail from day one. To me, that was very important.
2. What will you do to differentiate Northfield from other “racinos” in Ohio?
The overall marketing concept is not to just be a racino, but to be a place where there’s great entertainment. We will not fall into the trap of just taking a big box and putting some [video lottery terminals] in it and just assuming that people will come have a good time.
3. Will there eventually be a Hard Rock Hotel in Northfield?
Phase one is an entertainment complex. The potential for a hotel could be in one of the other phases depending on the overall philosophy of gaming here in the state. When you look at gaming now on a national basis, the drive-in or the day-trip customer is by far the largest majority of all activity. Rooms are a nice complement, but it has been proven over and over that it’s not a necessity.
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