Hard Rock eyes Hub for hotel
Company officials hint they may make decision on site within a year
Seminole Hard Rock Entertainment Inc., which owns a popular network of 122 Hard Rock Cafes in 46 countries and is expanding into hotels and casinos, is looking for a hotel location in Boston and expects to announce one within a year.
"We certainly think Boston is a favorable location for a Hard Rock Hotel," company chairman James F. Allen said yesterday. "That's clearly our goal. I'd love to announce it within the next year."
Allen, speaking at Boston's new Hard Rock Cafe location near Faneuil Hall, its walls drenched in rock 'n' roll memorabilia, said the success of the firm's hotels in Chicago and Orlando, and the early success of sales of condos at a hotel in San Diego, lead the company to believe Boston would be a good place for expansion.
The company is also building hotels in Palm Springs, Calif., and Macao.
Allen is also chief executive of gaming operations for the Seminole Tribe of Florida, which has seven casino locations in the state, including two Hard Rock Hotel Casinos, in Tampa and Hollywood.
Seminole Gaming purchased the 36-year-old Hard Rock empire in March for $965 million.
Allen, who has worked in the gaming industry since 1979 and for the Seminole Tribe for six years, said he engineered the Hard Rock acquisition. He said that, in addition to the established and well-known brand of cafes worldwide, he saw enormous potential in expansion of the hotels.
The company currently has interests in nine hotels, seven of them branded as Hard Rock, and four of them hotel-casinos.
Allen said he didn't know where a Hard Rock Hotel would land in Boston but said the emerging South Boston Waterfront is a possibility.
Mayor Thomas M. Menino had two reactions yesterday.
"He hasn't called our office," said Menino, who is known for wanting to know first about development plans others have for the city. "Every developer I have met thinks Boston is the city to be in."
But, asked if he thought the brand would fit, Menino said: "I stayed at one in Las Vegas. It was great. It was neat."
Allen was one of a handful of executives who worked for the development team that brought the successful Mohegan Sun gaming and entertainment complex to Connecticut.
Asked what he thought of the possibility of gaming coming to Massachusetts, Allen said he wasn't surprised at the efforts here and elsewhere in New England.
"Certainly the amount of gaming success Mohegan Sun and Foxwoods have had is legendary," he said
But, Allen added, "There is a perception -- inaccurate in my opinion -- that gaming is an automatic home run." He said gambling can contribute dollars to the economy, "if you build it right, if you have the right management, and if you have the right population."
"Hotels, casinos, resorts are just tremendously big entertainment experiences," said Allen.
Thomas C. Palmer Jr. can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.