TV Billionaire Bob Johnson Invests in Planned Hard Rock Casino at New York's Aqueduct Race Track

Vacation News » Vacation & Leisure Real Estate Edition | By Alex Finkelstein | July 31, 2009 8:30 AM ET

(NEW YORK CITY, NY) -- Big names in the entertainment and leisure industries today struck a deal that could bring the state of New York $525 million in annual revenue.

The deal:  A proposed Hard Rock Casino at New York's Aqueduct Race track.  Hard Rock International and New York City-based SL Green Realty Corp. are promoting the project.

The deal involves Hard Rock International and Caribbean CAGE LLC, a gaming company majority-owned by black television billionaire Robert L. Johnson's RLJ Co.

The proposed SL Green/Hard Rock project includes a Hard Rock-branded casino featuring more than 4,500 Video Lottery Terminals (VLT), a Hard Rock Live performance center, a Hard Rock Bar, iconic music memorabilia from Hard Rock International's unmatched collection, a VIP players club, retail shops, a 425-seat fresh harvest restaurant and a marketplace-style food court.

"We are thrilled to be working with Caribbean CAGE LLC and Bob Johnson," says Jim Allen, Chairman, Hard Rock International. "Bob Johnson is a true global pioneer in media, music and entertainment, and we are ecstatic that Caribbean CAGE LLC will be an equity investor in the Hard Rock Casino Aqueduct development."

Considered one of the country's most successful business leaders, Johnson is currently chairman and founder of RLJ Cos. and majority owner of the Charlotte Bobcats of the National Basketball Association.  Previously, Johnson was the founder, chairman and CEO of Black Entertainment Television (BET).

"This is a great opportunity to partner with Hard Rock - one of the world's most recognized brands," says Johnson. "My background in entertainment, marketing and media makes this a perfect match.

"After working with Hard Rock for almost a year, I am very excited that Caribbean CAGE will be joining Hard Rock International and SL Green in the Aqueduct development. This is the first of what I hope to

be many future projects with Hard Rock International."

Robert B. Washington, co-founder, chairman and CEO of Caribbean CAGE LLC says, "We, at CAGE, are delighted to join this great team in creating a world-class project - the Hard Rock Casino at Aqueduct Racetrack."


Marc Holliday

SL Green CEO Marc Holliday added, "Working with our partners, we are planning a state-of-the-art gaming facility with additional attractions that will make it one of New York City's most popular destinations when fully completed."

As part of the SL Green/Hard Rock proposal, more than 2,000 Video Lottery Terminals are expected to be open by April 2010 and an additional 2,500 terminals would be open by 2011.

Additional plans include a Hard Rock Hotel, shops, dining and an entertainment center.


Daniel R. Tishman

In addition to Bob Johnson and Caribbean CAGE LLC, Hard Rock and SL Green's bid also includes Jeff Gural, CEO of New York-based Newmark Knight Frank and American Racing Entertainment and owner of Tioga Downs and Vernon Downs in Upstate New York and Daniel R. Tishman, Chairman and CEO of New York-based Tishman Construction.

Hard Rock recently opened a world-class Hotel and Casino facility in Macau, as part of the City of Dreams project, and last month announced plans for a Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Hungary.

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