Hard Rock Going To Get Things Rolling In Atlantic City

Posted on September 25, 2017

[toc]Is it too soon to get excited about the upcoming opening of the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Atlantic City, New Jersey?

Hard Rock International, the group that successfully runs the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino properties down in Florida, bought the defunct $1.2 billion Trump Taj Mahal earlier this year for the paltry sum of $50 million.

Hard Rock immediately announced plans for a $375 million renovation and rebranding. It planned to finish up by the summer of 2018. Since then, the price tag of the renovations ballooned to $500 million. Plus, Hard Rock set Memorial Day Weekend 2018 as the projected opening date.

At this point, that puts the grand reopening some eight months away. But that’s only if the reconstruction is completed in time. A big if, considering how most renovations go these days.

The eight-month wait ahead

For most, it’s hard to get excited about something eight months down the road. However, Hard Rock has managed to keep its name in news headlines just enough over the past few months. As a result,  interest in New Jersey’s latest casino project is still piqued.

The news they were spending an additional $125 million over the initial renovation costs projections was enough to draw interest.

It was a given that the newly reimagined Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Atlantic City would feature a completely redesigned interior and a massive casino with some 2,400 slots and 130 table games. One would not expect anything less than first-class food and beverage options from Hard Rock either. Plus, plans to turn the property into the go-to entertainment destination in Atlantic City were equally in line with expectations.

The fact the price tag on the project has gone up, and Hard Rock seems willing and able to pay it, only goes to show one thing: The company’s commitment to bringing something great back to Atlantic City. That’s worth getting excited about, but that’s not all.

Tearing apart the Taj

Hard Rock was in the headlines this week with video making the rounds showing contractors ripping apart and removing the iconic fountain that once stood at the entrance to the Taj. At the end of August, the local press was also drawing attention to the project. This was because a liquidation sale on the property was wrapping up, featuring the last remnants of the Taj being sold off for pennies on the dollar.

The massive Trump Taj Mahal sign on the top of the building was the first to go this past Spring. Apparently now they’ve removed almost all references to the property’s past.

A new monument to success

When it first opened in 1990, Donald Trump called the Taj “the eighth wonder of the world.” It was certainly a monument to 80’s excess and Atlantic City’s success. However, the property did not age gracefully. As the decades went by, it became more of a symbol of the local gaming industry’s downturn than anything else.

In 2016, after ten years of gambling revenue declines in Atlantic City, things finally turned around with a small increase. The Taj also happened to shut down.

Now, the property’s new owners are building what amounts to a new homage to the city’s newfound success. The once-vaunted Taj shedding its skin entirely to make room for something new is yet another thing to get excited about. Even eight months out.

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Martin Derbyshire

Martin Derbyshire has more than ten years of experience reporting on the poker, online gambling, and land-based casino industries for a variety of publications including Bluff Magazine, PokerNews, and PokerListings. He has traveled extensively, attending tournaments and interviewing major players in the gambling world.

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