The event began with a live performance by Bret Michaels, from the metal band Poison, who did two brief sets, including an acoustic version of the ballad “Every Rose Has Its Thorn.”
The Eastern States Exposition has leased to Hard Rock about 38 acres of undeveloped land, previously used for parking on the Exposition’s 175-acre campus, said Eugene Cassidy, the exposition’s chief executive officer. The Big E fair would continue uninterrupted if the casino is built.
Cassidy called the Hard Rock proposal a “once-in-a-lifetime economic development opportunity,” that can help “preserve the past and ensure the future of the Big E.”
A Hard Rock New England resort would include a 400-room hotel, spa, restaurants and shops, a pool area, a concert and show venue of 3,000 to 4,500 seats, a permanent music memorabilia exhibition, and a 200,000-square-foot casino with 100 to 125 table games, and 2,500 to 3,000 slot machines, according to Hard Rock. Construction would take about two years, said Jim Allen, chairman of Hard Rock International.
Hard Rock on Friday paid its $400,000 application fee to the state. MGM and Penn National, each of which has proposed an urban gambling resort in Springfield, have already submitted fees. Mohegan Sun, which has proposed a casino in Palmer, had not submitted the fee Friday, though people familiar with the project said Mohegan will submit by the deadline.
Clairvest, a Canadian firm, has explored sites in Massachusetts for a slots parlor, but has not yet submitted an application.
Chicago casino and real estate tycoon Neil Bluhm, chairman of Rush Street Gaming, has expressed interest in bidding for a casino license in Massachusetts.