Seminoles will purchase Hard Rock Cafe business
Fla. tribe's $965m buy includes casinos, eateries, and hotels
MIAMI -- For Seminole Indian Tribe vice chairman Max Osceola, the tribe's ambitious purchase of the famed Hard Rock Cafe business for $965 million reminds him of another deal in Native American history.
"Our ancestors sold Manhattan for trinkets," Osceola said yesterday. "Today, with the acquisition of the Hard Rock Cafe, we're going to buy Manhattan back one hamburger at a time."
Osceola spoke at a news conference disclosing the deal with British company Rank Group PLC for Hard Rock's casinos, restaurants, hotels and what is said to be the world's largest collection of rock memorabilia.
The Seminoles said they believe the deal is an American Indian tribe's first purchase of a major international corporation, and called the deal a milestone that shows its growing economic power. Specialists called the purchase a bold move that could make the Seminoles an important player in the gambling and hospitality industry.
The Seminoles -- the first US tribe to get into the gambling business -- already had partnered with Hard Rock in successful hotel, gambling and entertainment complexes in Tampa and Hollywood in tourist-friendly Florida.
"This is a proud moment for the Seminole Tribe of Florida and for all Indian tribes," said Mitchell Cypress, the chairman of the elected tribal council. "It is also an opportunity for the Seminole Tribe to diversify its business operations and help a very successful company to achieve even greater growth."
US tribes now have more than $22 billion in annual revenues from gambling, according to government figures.
Today, the Seminoles have about 3,300 members living on and off Florida reservations and all of them receive payments from the casinos.
Yesterday's deal includes 124 Hard Rock Cafes, four Hard Rock Hotels, two Hard Rock Casino Hotels, two Hard Rock Live! concert venues and stakes in three unbranded hotels.
The memorabilia collection includes some 70,000 pieces, including Jimi Hendrix's Flying V guitar, one of Madonna's bustiers, and guitars formerly owned by Bob Dylan, Eric Clapton, and Chuck Berry.
However, the deal does not include Hard Rock's Las Vegas casino, which is owned by Morgans Hotel Group, or Morgans' rights to Hard Rock intellectual property in Australia, Brazil, Israel, Venezuela, and many areas of the United States west of the Mississippi River, a Morgans official said.
The deal also follows a national trend of tribal casinos teaming with large corporations or going to other states to expand their reach. For example, the Mashantucket Pequot tribe, which operates Foxwoods Resort Casino in Connecticut, earlier this year said it was leasing the MGM Grand name from MGM Mirage. A $700 million hotel and casino will be called the MGM Grand but will be operated by Foxwoods.