It was a Windex-blue sky for the grand opening of The Hard Rock Casino Northern Indiana that opened with much fanfare and a guitar smash on Friday, May 14.
An untold number of city officials were proudly in attendance as was Gary Mayor Jerome Prince and his wife, former Senator Earline Rogers (known as "the gueen of gaming" as she's responsible for the legalization of gaming in Indiana), Tito and Marlon Jackson, Deniece Williams (4-time Grammy Award winner, "Let's Hear it for the Boy"), Kym Mazelle (the "First Lady of House Music"), Marshall Thompson (member of the Grammy Award-winning group, the Chi-Lites), Pete Wentz (Fallout Boy), Mark Sayers McGrath (lead singer for rock band Sugar Ray), Crystal Taliefero (singer/songwriter), Donald and Ken Kinsey (Big Daddy Kinsey and the Kinsey Report), members of The Seminole Tribe of Florida (who own the HRI brand), and so many others.
Mayor Prince welcomed the crowd, including dozens of press outlets, to the event. He proclaimed it "The Jackson Family Day" in the city and presented Marlon and Tito with a plaque.
Dozens of pieces of memorabilia are on display from the Jackson family including Joe Jackson’s original guitar --that started it all--- (a 37-foot replica is the centerpiece of the complex located at the entrance), outfits worn on stage by the Jacksons, Michael’s famous Swarovski crystal glove and Florsheim Imperial shoes from his "Thriller" video, THE red leather jacket from the "Beat It" video, Janet Jackson’s suit from her "Velvet Rope" tour as well as objects from other artists that have connections to the Jacksons – including Elvis, Lady Gaga, Eddie Van Halen, Justin Timberlake, Madonna, Mariah Carey, Pharrel, Shakira and Fergie.
Marlon said, "I want to thank the Hard Rock Hotel for being the first to take a step and see Gary's vision and wanting to be a part of it, creating so many jobs. So, Gary, a diamond in the rough--you're ready to get polished baby!" He and Tito also thanked city officials for making the Jackson Family Home, at 2300 Jackson St., a historical landmark. "It was about a city called Gary, a school called Roosevelt, but most of all it was about a little house on a little street filled with noise and music, and most of all, love, " Tito said.
A customary Hard Rock guitar smash followed many speeches and signaled the opening of the Casino as all the dignataries onstage smashed guitars emblazoned with the HR logo following a countdown. Fireworks went off behind the stand as the crowd rose for a standing ovation. A bank of press, stationed in the rear, captured every moment.
The Casino is easily accessible from Chicago (just 45 minutes away) and is located on 29th Street just off Interstate 80/94 at the Burr Street exit in Gary.
The $300 million, 200,000 square-foot entertainment complex has nearly 1,600 gaming tales, 5 restaurants, a theater and a 1,954 seat live performance venue.
The new casino is the result of the relocation of the two Majestic Star Riverboat Casinos that are owned by The Seminole Tribe of Florida, into one land-based facility.
Since the groundbreaking for the new facility in 2020, Gary officials hope it will provide the economic boost that the struggling Northwest Indiana city needs. The Casino created over 700 jobs and will create several hundred more when the next phase begins, the building of the hotel. (Open 24 hours daily.)