By Rick Armon
Beacon Journal staff writer
The new Hard Rock Rocksino Northfield Park in Northfield will open Dec. 18, as promised.
Racino officials had pledged earlier this year to open on that date, a Wednesday.
And the company has made it official, announcing that the gaming and entertainment venue will open its doors to the public at 5:30 p.m. that day.
“We’re excited to get up and running and provide an entertainment destination for Northeast Ohio,” racino President Jon Lucas said Tuesday.
The facility, located next to the Northfield Park harness track along state Route 8, will be filled with about 2,300 slots-like video lottery terminals, a comedy club, steakhouse, buffet room, Hard Rock Live music venue and Hard Rock Cafe.
Racino officials have estimated the cost of the project at about $265 million.
On opening night, a special ceremony is planned for 4 p.m. and a “guitar smash,” the traditional way Hard Rock opens a new venue, is set for 5 p.m.
The racino will have an opening musical act, Lucas said, but the artist hasn’t been announced yet. He added that the band Night Ranger has been booked to play the venue on Dec. 27.
Lucas said workers are putting the finishing touches on the interior, and video lottery terminal components still need to be installed.
“I don’t think there are any great hurdles at this point,” he said.
The racino still must hire between 100 and 200 employees. The majority of the jobs remaining to be filled are for cocktail servers, beverage servers and cooks, Lucas said.
The Rocksino will employ between 700 and 800 workers.
The Dec. 18 date was targeted because the week before Christmas is slow for the industry and will allow officials to work out any issues.
By comparison, the week between Christmas and New Year’s is the busiest.
The Ohio Lottery Commission, which oversees the VLTs at racetracks, doesn’t foresee any issues that would delay the opening, lottery spokeswoman Danielle Frizzi-Babb said.
The commission is still reviewing operating procedures, security and other paperwork, she added.
“We are connecting some of the machines and we’re testing those and that will happen right up until they open,” Frizzi-Babb said.
A controlled demonstration is planned for the commission on Dec. 16.
The Rocksino will be the third major gambling venue to open in Northeast Ohio, behind the Horseshoe Casino in downtown Cleveland and ThistleDown Racino in North Randall.
The Hollywood Gaming at Mahoning Valley Race Course also is under construction near Youngstown.
The Rocksino should be the fourth of seven racinos to open in Ohio. Miami Valley Gaming in Lebanon is expected to be next on Dec. 12.
Rick Armon can be reached at 330-996-3569 or firstname.lastname@example.org.