The president of the Hard Rock Casino Northern Indiana, Matt Schuffert, confirmed Friday the $300 million facility remains on track to open this spring.
The property will include a casino with 1,637 slot machines and 80 table games, a sportsbook, five restaurants, a Hard Rock Live performance venue and retail shops. "We should be announcing an opening date pretty soon," Schuffert said, as reported by The Times of Northwest Indiana. "We're very excited to get it open. We're making great progress."
Hard Rock currently is in the process of hiring hundreds of new employees to supplement the Majestic Star Casino workers who will transfer to the new Gary casino once the land-based gaming facility opens and replaces the aging Majestic Star boats located at Buffington Harbor on Lake Michigan.
On Friday, the company also hosted a vendor fair at Gary's ArtHouse seeking local businesses to provide some two dozen commodities for the new casino, ranging from bakery goods and fresh fish to custom millwork, DJs and snow removal, along with the possibility of selling to the entire worldwide network of Hard Rock casinos, cafes, hotels and other properties.
"We are all about developing suppliers. It's very important to us that we're not just placing orders, it's very important that we help you grow your business and embrace the endeavors that would complement our business," said Tracy Bradford, Hard Rock Executive Vice President of Administration.
The event was organized in partnership with the Gary, Lakeshore and Crossroads Regional chambers of commerce and featured three sessions over the course of the day to allow for sufficient social distancing amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
Schuffert said that focus on safety will carry over to the new casino where, at least in the beginning, patrons will encounter temperature check stations, a face mask requirement, strategically located plexiglass and other components of Hard Rock's Safe and Sound program.
Music memorabilia also will be incorporated throughout the casino keeping with the Hard Rock theme. Schuffert said many of the items will focus on the Jackson family, whose 1960s rise to worldwide music stardom began in a tiny house at 2300 Jackson Street in Gary, just four miles east of the new casino.
"Our focus now is to get the property open. We're pretty comfortable it's going to be very successful when you take into consideration what we're building, the brand and the location." Schuffert added that Hard Rock remains committed to developing in coming years a hotel and parking garage connected to the new casino.
Gary Mayor Jerome Prince said he's optimistic the new casino, along with Hard Rock's support for small businesses and community programs throughout Gary, will help attract new residents and companies to an increasingly clean and safe Steel City. "I believe the energy that surrounds it is going to be catalytic to other folks outside of the community, and inside the community, wanting to step up and make those significant investments also," Prince said.