Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Atlantic City opened its doors Thursday with a guitar smash that would have made Pete Townshend proud.
The much-anticipated resort was packed as thousands streamed into its resort’s casino, music venues, shops and restaurants on the resort’s official opening day.
“We promised you that we wouldn’t just paint it and put a guitar on the wall,” HRI Chairman and CEO Jim Allen said at an early morning press conference. “How do you think we did?”
Hard Rock’s opening was just the first of the day in Atlantic City. The new Ocean Resort Casino was to have its grand unveiling hours later.
Parent company Hard Rock International, owned by the Seminole Tribe of Florida, purchased the hotel last year from real estate magnate Carl Icahn.
The hotel, a partnership between HRI and the Jack Morris and Joe Jingoli families, received $500 million in renovations.
Located directly on the Atlantic City Boardwalk, the 17-acre property features 2,000 rooms, a casino with 2,200 slots and 120 table games, and more than 20 restaurants and entertainment venues.
Hotel rooms offer an impressive array of amenities for music lovers including turntables and special playlists, with guests offered the option to have guitars delivered to their rooms.
Hard Rock serves as curator of one of the largest, and most valuable, music memorabilia collections and the property boasts a rock-chic interior paying homage to musical greats throughout. Memorabilia was hand-selected and locally focused on contemporary musicians and artists with ties to New Jersey.
The hotel was initially scheduled to open its doors to gamblers Thursday but got the green light to open a day early from the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement.
Allen said several trial nights were required to receive the state’s seal of approval.
“I was very proud the moment those doors opened," Allen said.
Allen called the project “financially sound.”
“We have no outside debt,” he said. “When we look at the Jersey Shore and how successful it’s been over the last 10 years, we believe we have been a catalyst for that.”
Allen guided the Seminole Tribe’s acquisition of HRI in 2007 for $965 million, making the Seminoles the first North American Indian Tribe to purchase a major international corporation.
“This is truly an exciting time for us and our tribe,” said Marcellus Osceola Jr., chairman of the Seminole Tribe of Florida. “We’re definitely excited to be here in New Jersey.”
Senate President Stephen Sweeney, D-3rd District, was among those in attendance, and he said the future looks bright for the city.
“Atlantic City had some really dark days and look what they’ve done,” Sweeney said. “We made some really, really tough decisions on Atlantic City over the last few years, none that were popular but they all are proven that they worked. There's actually a feel walking up here, isn’t there? That's what these guys brought to the city with this casino. We're back guys.”
The hotel is booked solid for its opening weekend, which includes a lineup of celebrity appearances and performances featuring Pitbull and Carrie Underwood.