Hard Rock to Build Gaming Center in Northfield Park

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NORTHFIELD, Ohio – Cleveland’s downtown casino will open in a month, but soon, there will be another venue to place your bets.

Northfield Park announced its latest plans for the Hard Rock Gaming and Entertainment venue.

The site would keep the existing race track and grandstand and add a building to the site.

"I’m not a high-wheeler gambler, but I do like to gamble, and it’s fun. It’s fun to watch the races," said Judy Ivars, of Twinsburg. "I’m absolutely thrilled about this, and Hard Rock is such a premiere facility. Couldn’t ask for anything better than that."

Some hope the new facility will help revive the horse-race business, which has struggled in recent years, said Amy Hollar, of the Ohio Harness Horsemen’s Association.

"The past decade’s not been an easy one for Ohio horsemen," she said. "We’ve watched as many of our brethren have had to leave the industry they love or many have had to scale back their operations."

The new facility, which does not have a start date yet, would compete with the Horseshoe casino.

Hard Rock, however, will not have gaming tables, but it will include 2,500 slot machines. Other features include a Hard Rock Café, three restaurants, a comedy club and stage for musicians.

"I think younger people prefer to have the table games, they prefer to have the downtown excitement," said David Knicely of Northfield Center. "Whereas an older demographic might prefer to play the slots, come to a place to eat. They’re not thrilled about going downtown, fight for a parking space and walk a distance. It’s a different demographic."

The project is expected to bring 2,000 jobs to the area – about half will be construction and the other will be full-time positions. Hard Rock said it’ll take about a year to build the new facility.

Jim Allen, of Hard Rock International, said management and design positions are being filled now. Jobs for the entertainment site will open about seven months before its opening, once it is set.

"We come here today in a true partnership. We come here today representing truly one of the world's most iconic brands, and we hope and believe that this relationship will take us all to another level," Allen said. "We’ll be obviously out in the community, hosting job fairs, giving the great opportunity to come work at this amazing facility we’re designing."

Allen said the company has no plans to close the existing Hard Rock Café in downtown Cleveland.