Saturday, February 24, 2018
Business

Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino begins vastly scaled-down expansion in Tampa

TAMPA — The Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino said Wednesday it is expanding its Orient Road facility, but the project represents a fraction of what the casino had announced in February, when the Seminole Tribe said passage of a gambling deal by the Legislature would bring $1.8 billion worth of projects in Tampa and Hollywood.

A gaming compact signed by Gov. Rick Scott and Seminole Chairman James Billie died in the legislative session that ended in March.

The Seminoles' new plan will bring an additional parking garage with 750 spaces, a 30,000-square-foot premium gaming area, 50-table poker room, a new restaurant and other amenities, adding 100 jobs. Construction began Wednesday.

In February, the tribe said that if the gambling deal passed the Legislature, it would add a second 500-room hotel tower to the existing 244 rooms in Tampa; a music venue seating 1,500 to 2,000 fans; new banquet and meeting facilities; a new restaurant and lobby bar; and remodeling of the existing Hard Rock Cafe.

Meanwhile, the tribe was poised to add a 36-story hotel shaped like a giant guitar at the Hollywood facility that would boost its number of guest rooms to 1,273.

Tribal officials did not break out spending for each site, but it was estimated that the price tag for the Tampa expansion would have been $650 million. It would have created the biggest hotel in Hillsborough County.

Between the two projects, officials said 4,800 permanent full-time jobs and more than 14,000 construction jobs would result.

The gambling deal struck between the tribe and the governor's office would have expanded the tribal casinos' menu, allowing it to add table games such as roulette and craps. The 20-year compact would have generated $3 billion for the state over seven years, with the tribe paying a sliding percentage of revenue after that.

The deal would have also allowed slot machines to be added at existing dog and horse tracks across the state, which turned off lawmakers opposed to expanded gambling in the state.

No hotel expansion is now included in the Tampa project. No new work is being performed in Hollywood.

"This expansion project will create over 100 new permanent jobs at the casino and keep hundreds of Tampa Bay area construction workers busy for the next year," Tampa Hard Rock president John Fontana said in a statement announcing the local project. "These new additions to the property will clearly enhance the guest experience and attract more tourists from around the country."

A Hard Rock spokesman declined to divulge the cost of the new project.

It is the third expansion for the property. The most recent was a $75 million project in 2012.

Scott attended the February announcement at the Hard Rock, touting the economic development and jobs angles, and warning that 3,500 casino positions could be eliminated if the new gambling pact was not approved.

That hasn't happened. The state sued the tribe, saying the expiration last summer of a provision of the 2010 deal made blackjack games illegal. The tribe has also sued, accusing the state of not negotiating in good faith.

Table games have continued during the litigation, and no layoffs have occurred, a spokesman for the tribe said.

The massive construction projects, in whatever form they would take in the future, remain contingent upon approval of a new gambling deal, the spokesman said.

"The tribe is optimistic at the potential for a finalized agreement with the state at some point in the future," Seminole spokesman Gary Bitner said.

Contact Jerome R. Stockfisch @[email protected].

Comments
Activists call for tech companies to drop NRA’s digital TV channel

Activists call for tech companies to drop NRA’s digital TV channel

Activists are calling for Apple, Amazon, Google and other streaming companies to drop the National Rifle Association’s digital TV channel in the wake of the mass shooting at a Florida school last week, putting the companies in the delicate position o...
Updated: 5 hours ago
Edward Peachey demands severance from CareerSource before stepping down

Edward Peachey demands severance from CareerSource before stepping down

The head of the Pinellas and Hillsborough career centers under multiple investigations into the way they report job placement figures says he has no intention of stepping down.That’s unless he is paid five months severance.In a letter from his attorn...
Published: 02/23/18
Terminally ill Valrico man dies a month after marrying junior high sweetheart

Terminally ill Valrico man dies a month after marrying junior high sweetheart

VALRICO — During his final few days, 19-year-old Dustin Snyder moved to a hospice house, surrounded himself with belongings from home, swam in a pool and visited the beach in Ruskin.Wherever he went, the terminally ill Valrico man had family beside h...
Published: 02/23/18
Tampa Downtown Partnership gets initial city okay to expand north

Tampa Downtown Partnership gets initial city okay to expand north

TAMPA — The Downtowner may be heading to Tampa Heights — but not until Oct. 1.That’s because the nonprofit Tampa Downtown Partnership this week won initial City Council approval to expand into Tampa Heights."Tampa Heights is becoming an important gat...
Published: 02/23/18

Tampa lawyer gets 27 months in federal prison for insider trading

Tampa lawyer Walter "Chet’’ Little was sentenced this week to 27 months in federal prison for engaging in an insider trading scheme that reaped him and a friend profits totaling nearly $1 million.According to federal authorities, Little accessed comp...
Published: 02/23/18
More companies are cutting ties with gun lobby as #BoycottNRA movement gains steam

More companies are cutting ties with gun lobby as #BoycottNRA movement gains steam

Three major companies — Enterprise Holdings, First National Bank of Omaha, and the cybersecurity giant Symantec — have ended co-branding partnerships with the National Rifle Association as a #BoycottNRA social media movement picks up steam.Enterprise...
Published: 02/23/18
Citi to refund $330 Million to credit card customers it overcharged

Citi to refund $330 Million to credit card customers it overcharged

Citigroup is preparing to issue $330 million in refunds after the bank discovered it had overcharged nearly 2 million credit card customers on their annual interest rates, a spokeswoman said Friday.The bank, which has about 150 million credit card ac...
Published: 02/23/18
Girl Scouts camp sold to member of Tampa’s Lykes family

Girl Scouts camp sold to member of Tampa’s Lykes family

ODESSA — The 63-year-old lakeside summer camp had no air conditioning or electricity. Cabin floors were often covered in grime, and cobwebs clung to the windows.But under new ownership, the 18.6 acres of Florida woods known as Camp Scoutcrest to memb...
Published: 02/23/18
BB&T cites ‘technical issue’ in outage affecting customers

BB&T cites ‘technical issue’ in outage affecting customers

Millions of BB&T customers were unable to access their accounts after a service outage which the bank blames on an equipment malfunction. The Winston-Salem, North Carolina-based bank posted a statement on its Twitter page saying the problem persiste...
Published: 02/23/18
Realtors are ‘every 10 feet’ in Florida but more want in the business

Realtors are ‘every 10 feet’ in Florida but more want in the business

ST. PETERSBURG — Tired of working as a yacht captain, Pancho Jiminez decided to get into real estate even though he knows it’s a highly competitive field in Florida."Realtors are every 10 feet around here," he says.Nonetheless, Jiminez is among 30 st...
Published: 02/23/18