Last updated on July 25th, 2022 at 02:15 pm
Now that the Menominee Indian Tribe of Wisconsin and Hard Rock International are relaunching their effort to build an entertainment center and casino in Kenosha, Menominee chairman Ronald J. Corn, Sr. says he is optimistic the project will be approved in a year or two.
The review and approval process for off-reservation Native American casinos typically takes several years. But the project planned by the Menominee and Hard Rock, which is owned by the Seminole Tribe of Florida, is similar to their earlier proposal that received federal and local approval, only to be shot down by Gov. Scott Walker in 2015.
That proposal was for an $800 million development with a casino, hotel, 5,000-seat entertainment venue, retail space and restaurants. It was planned for the former Dairyland Greyhound Park site in Kenosha, which is now being redeveloped into a mix of commercial and residential uses.
The new development proposal will be about half the size of the 2015 proposal, Corn says, and will include a casino, hotel, live music venue and Hard Rock Café. It is planned for a 59.2-acre site southwest of I-94 and 60th Street, in Kenosha.
Since the Menominee and Hard Rock are proposing a similar, but smaller, project in the same city as their previous proposal, Corn said he’s optimistic that the review and approval process will be relatively short.
The project needs the approval of the governor and neither current Gov. Tony Evers nor the Republicans running for governor have indicated whether or not they would support it.
Corn said the Menominee and Hard Rock have been working for about two years to relaunch the Kenosha project.
“We’re really excited,” he said. “We have always been interested, since 2015, in trying to move this forward. It was more a matter of the dots sort of connecting and getting us back together and motivated to start moving forward. We’ve been at this for maybe a couple of years now. So, we’ve finally got to this point with the land being the most challenging aspect.”
The site is located within the Kenosha city limits, but is owned by the village of Bristol. The Bristol Village Board and Community Development Authority voted unanimously Tuesday to sell the land to Hard Rock for about $15 million.
“We really like the site,” Corn said. “Hard Rock really knows how to get the value out of the lay of the land. We’re looking forward to seeing what they can render.”
The Menominee and Hard Rock are planning a smaller project this time because of new casinos that have opened or are planned in Beloit and Illinois, including a Hard Rock Casino in Rockford.
The Hard Rock partnership is a major asset to helping the Kenosha project find its place in the market, Corn said.
“We’re fortunate to be in partnership with Hard Rock,” he said. “Their brand alone is worth a good share of the market. Their commitment to entertainment is going to be well-received in the (Kenosha) area. I really think with their brand, with their experience, their knowledge of the industry, their commitment to excellence, that we’ll be able to maintain a sizeable amount of the market in the area.”