Sunday, January 27, 2013

Hard Rock could change the entertainment scene in Western Mass.

The 5,500 seat Hard Rock Live in Hollywood, Florida at the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino Hollywood.

By Zachary Baru

Hard Rock International's proposal to build a resort casino on the campus of the Eastern States Exposition in West Springfield could be a game-changer for entertainment in the region.  Music is not just a part of Hard Rock's name, it is in the brand's DNA.

Hard Rock International owns the global trademark for all Hard Rock brands.  They own 177 venues in 58 countries, including 8 casinos.  So where does sports and entertainment fall into all of this?  Three of their properties include live music venues called Hard Rock Live, which attract top performers with intimate stage views.  These venues are located in Hollywood, Florida, Orlando and Biloxi, Mississippi.

Plans for the 38-acre site at the Eastern States Exposition include an anticipated live music venue, for which further details have not been released.  If this venue were to be the fourth Hard Rock Live in the United States, it would instantly become a major player in the region's entertainment industry.

The most popular of the three Hard Rock Live venues is just outside of Fort Lauderdale, Florida located at the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino Hollywood.  Think of a smaller, even more intimate Mohegan Sun Arena.  The 5,500 seat venue has attracted top events, including Eric Clapton, Billy Joel and Aerosmith.

Should Hard Rock International's proposal be awarded the one resort casino license in Western Mass., there could potentially be a new sports and entertainment facility in West Springfield.  Hard Rock Live Hollywood has hosted boxing events and was the former home of a franchise in Arena Football 2, which was the Arena Football League's development league until the restructuring of the AFL in 2009.

The bottom line is that with now four resort casino proposals in Western Mass., this region's sports and entertainment industry will undoubtably be changed.  Each of the four proposals has different advantages and disadvantages for the industry, and also for the local economy.  Entertainment has always been a part of Hard Rock International's brand, and that would not likely be any different in West Springfield.

Zach Baru can be followed on Twitter @zbaru and reached at