Hard Rock International Submits Application to Develop HARD ROCK HOTEL & CASINO NEW ENGLAND At Eastern States Exposition in West Springfield, Mass. - World-class development will create iconic and authentic destination resort property and enhance the area's event and exhibition industry

- Unique organizations with strong legacy of philanthropy, entertainment and tourism

- Major economic program to drive revenue, jobs and impact throughout Western Massachusetts region

ORLANDO, Fla., Jan. 11, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- Hard Rock International – owner of one of the world's most recognized, iconic brands – announced today their submittal of an application and a $400,000 non-refundable application fee to the Massachusetts Gaming Commission for the development of HARD ROCK HOTEL & CASINO NEW ENGLAND to be located in West Springfield, Mass., on the campus of Eastern States Exposition (ESE).  The single-phased resort property would be created on a dedicated 38-acre area of the ESE's eastern parcel, as a keystone enhancement to the largest, most popular visitor destination in the region.

"We're thrilled to be working with ESE, who brings years of experience in the entertainment business and the most desired location to our company and brand. With 38 acres to develop, the project allows us to build today and grow tomorrow," said Jim Allen, chairman of Hard Rock International. "We're proud to announce this project and concurrently submit our application. We are confident that together, with ESE, the Town of West Springfield and neighboring Western Massachusetts communities, the new resort will positively impact the State's economy and redefine the entertainment experience in Massachusetts."

The HARD ROCK HOTEL & CASINO NEW ENGLAND will be designed to create a destination resort casino property unique to the region with a focus on providing a world-class entertainment experience to its guests.  The proposed project is planned to utilize a mix of non-gaming and gaming amenities, to include a first-class hotel of 400-500 rooms, featuring a Rock Spa and tropical, indoor pool deck; an approximately 200,000-square foot state-of-the-art casino with 100-125 table games and 2,500-3,000 slot machines; and a world-famous Hard Rock Cafe, where its iconic memorabilia, food and live music would be a bedrock in Western Massachusetts, as it is in Cafes from London to Los Angeles and Buenos Aires to Barcelona.  The resort also is anticipated to incorporate a live music venue, a permanent music memorabilia exhibition, a facility with meeting space and a destination retail/dining galleria of approximately 150,000 square feet.

"Eastern States Exposition is proud to welcome Hard Rock as a neighbor and partner to the Western Massachusetts community and we're confident the brand will complement our core values, offering exceptional entertainment and a commitment to philanthropic efforts," related Eugene Cassidy, ESE's chief executive officer.  "For nearly 100 years, our special property along Memorial Avenue has offered entertainment to millions, business and employment opportunities to thousands and a wonderful experience for all of New England.  This new evolution of entertainment with Hard Rock will help drive new energy and multiply the economic impact of our organization on our regional community for the next generation and beyond."  Cassidy added that the arrangement with Hard Rock has been fully completed and that the Board of Directors of Eastern States Exposition, representing all six New England states, unanimously approved the development.

Eastern States Exposition Alliance
Hard Rock and ESE share a common vision of philanthropy in the community, while creating compelling entertainment for locals and visitors alike.  The Hard Rock will enter into a ground lease with ESE and make capital improvements to the ESE campus, ensuring that the facility can enhance its business operations and its economic impact on the region.  ESE, a non-profit organization that has contributed millions of dollars to local New England organizations, will be able to expand its mission.  Additionally, the 17-day Big E Fair will continue in its current form each September, with Hard Rock providing support and assistance with live events and marketing. Discussions have initiated between the development team and the Town of West Springfield on a number of key elements, including economic development, traffic and parking. All parties are committed to improved traffic access and ample, accessible parking for visitors to The Big E each fall, as well as other events and the casino operation itself. To assist in these efforts, Hard Rock has partnered with best-in-class local Massachusetts engineering consultants Tighe & Bond. Additional economic programs -- centered on job training, urban renewal and tourism, in particular -- are planned with communities in the Western Massachusetts region.

Major Economic Impact
The HARD ROCK HOTEL & CASINO NEW ENGLAND, truly a regional plan, will be designed to draw visitors from well beyond Massachusetts providing a major boost to West Springfield, the state and New England. The project will bring increased direct, indirect and induced economic benefits through the creation of thousands of new construction and permanent jobs; ongoing economic activity generated by project operations; visitor spending outside the project at area businesses in the local community; and hundreds of millions of dollars in new state tax revenue, local property tax (converting a tax-exempt parcel into what will likely be the largest commercial asset in West Springfield), sales revenue, hotel tax, and more. Together with ESE, the complex would be among the most significant visitor-based economic engines in all of the Northeastern U.S.

Financial and Operational Strength of Hard Rock
Hard Rock International (HRI) is actively involved with Hard Rock Hotel & Casino properties across the globe, demonstrating the company's skills, experience and success in delivering results on a domestic and international scale.  HRI currently acts in a variety of capacities across the portfolio of casino properties with roles including property management, joint venture partner, licensor and franchise partner. The newest addition to the portfolio, to be a Hard Rock branded and managed property, is Hard Rock Northfield Park, which recently broke ground in Northfield, Ohio.

About Hard Rock International
With a total of 177 venues in 58 countries, including 141 cafes, 18 hotels and 8 casinos, Hard Rock International (HRI) is one of the most globally recognized companies. Beginning with an Eric Clapton guitar, Hard Rock owns the world's greatest collection of music memorabilia, which is displayed at its locations around the globe. Hard Rock is also known for its collectible fashion and music-related merchandise, Hard Rock Live performance venues and an award-winning website. HRI owns the global trademark for all Hard Rock brands.  The company owns, operates and franchises Cafes in iconic cities including London, New York, San Francisco, Sydney and Dubai.  HRI also owns, licenses and/or manages hotel/casino properties worldwide. Destinations include the companies' two most successful Hotel and Casino properties in Tampa and Hollywood, Fl., both owned and operated by HRI parent company The Seminole Tribe of Florida, as well as other exciting locations including Bali, Biloxi, Chicago, Cancun, Las Vegas, San Diego and Singapore. Upcoming new Hard Rock Cafe locations include Melaka and San Jose.  New Hard Rock Hotel projects include Aruba, Riviera Maya, Abu Dhabi and Shenzhen and Haikou in China. New Hard Rock Casino projects in development include Hungary and Northfield, OH.  For more information on Hard Rock International, visit www.hardrock.com. For more information on Hard Rock Hotel and Casino New England visit http://www.hardrockhotels.com/new-england.

About Eastern States Exposition
Eastern States Exposition is the home of The Big E, the 8th largest fair in North America, 120 consumer and trade shows, Storrowton Village Museum, an authentic reconstructed 19th century township, and Storrowton Tavern, a landmark restaurant. The 175-acre Exposition is located at the crossroads of New England in West Springfield, Massachusetts. The Big E takes place for 17 days each September, with 1.3 million visitors. It features top-name entertainment, unique fair foods, Big E Cream Puffs, a circus, the Avenue of States, Early American re-enactors in Storrowton Village, a Mardi Gras Parade, animals, rides and shopping during the region's most colorful season. The annual Big E, the only fair to represent more than one state, promotes the agriculture and culture of New England and has an economic impact of $225 million on Hampden County. Eastern States Exposition is a not-for-profit corporation committed to excellence in providing year-round opportunities for the development and promotion of agriculture, education, industry and family entertainment while preserving our New England heritage.

SOURCE Hard Rock International



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