FORT LAUDERDALE — A new $1.5 billion expansion project at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Hollywood, Fla., is off to a smashing start — literally.
On Wednesday, an electrifying guitar-smashing ceremony accompanied by fireworks set the backdrop for the Seminole Tribe of Florida's preview of a new hotel tower that's rising at the mammoth lodging and entertainment complex.
The guitar smashings have become a ceremonial staple of Hard Rock grand openings and other milestone events.
The expansion is poised to debut several signature features that don't currently exist nationally or anywhere in the world, officials said during a preview of the 450-foot tall guitar-shaped hotel tower under construction.
"It will be the first building in the world that's truly to scale designed as an authentic guitar," James "Jim" Allen, Seminole Gaming CEO and chairman of Hard Rock International, told reporters. "So it's not just an exterior facade, the curving of the building will be identical to an authentic guitar."
It's scheduled for a summer 2019 opening.
In addition to the tower's avant-garde shape, guests will be able to explore a 10-acre complex at its base that will offer private cabanas with plunge pools, multiple waterfalls, beach club dining and watersports.
The tower will add 638 rooms and suites to the Seminole Hard Rock's accommodation offerings, pushing the room total to 1,270. Today, the Seminole Hard Rock hotel boasts 469 rooms and suites, several restaurants, a lagoon-styled pool, casino and meeting and convention space.
The existing 5,500-seat Hard Rock Live entertainment venue will be demolished in March. The new $100 million larger and redesigned Hard Rock Live will sport 7,000 seats in a theater-style configuration. The complex's existing casino will also be doubled in size to offer 3,267 slot machines and 178 table games, such as blackjack and baccarat.
The new Hard Rock Live venue is also scheduled to open in mid 2019. Both the hotel tower and entertainment venue openings are timed ahead of South Florida's hosting of Super Bowl LIV at the Hard Rock Stadium in February 2020, officials said.
Seminole Tribe officials first announced plans for the billion-dollar project at a press conference at the Hollywood complex with Gov. Rick Scott last year.
At the time, officials said the expansion was contingent on the Legislature's approval of a new gambling deal between Scott and the tribe. A deal was reached over the summer.
"We had this project in a holding pattern," Allen said, noting the tribe wanted certainty about its future before making the financial investment.
"The tribe's compact is 100 percent secure, in place (and) challengeable by no one until the year 2030," he said.