Poll shows support for proposed Kenosha Hard Rock casino, tribe says

60% of 600 area residents polled by Virginia firm view development favorably

The Bristol Village Board and Community Development Authority voted unanimously Tuesday to sell 60 acres of land to Hard Rock International for about $15 million.
The Bristol Village Board and Community Development Authority voted unanimously in July 2022 to sell 59.2 acres of land to Hard Rock International for about $15 million.

Three months after announcing plans to relaunch its effort to build an entertainment center and casino in Kenosha, The Menominee Indian Tribe of Wisconsin says a recent poll it commissioned shows “strong support” for the development, a partnership with Hard Rock International.

The Menominee Tribe and Hard Rock, a hotel, restaurant, and casino company that is owned by the Seminole Tribe of Florida, previously tried to develop a massive entertainment complex and casino at the former Dairyland Greyhound Park site in Kenosha. However, those plans were shot down by then Gov. Scott Walker in 2015.

Now the Menominee Tribe and Hard Rock are making plans for a different site in Kenosha, located southwest of I-94 and 60th Street.

“Kenosha area residents have made up their minds, and they support a casino by a wide margin,” said Ron Corn Sr., chairman of the Menominee Indian Tribe of Wisconsin in a related press release. “They understand the value of attracting more visitors to Kenosha who will spend more money locally, help create more jobs, and make Kenosha a destination to enjoy big name entertainment. The Menominee project in partnership with Hard Rock will generate more revenue for both the city and county of Kenosha, and the community overwhelmingly supports the project.”

Poll details

In a press release issued Thursday, the Menominee Tribe said a poll that was performed by the Tarrance Group of Alexandria, Virginia, polled 600 area residents by phone between Sept. 22 – 29. Half of those residents were Kenosha County residents and the other half (300) being residents in Racine, Waukesha, and Milwaukee counties, the release states.

Of those 600 regional residents, 60% were in favor of the project and 16% opposed, according to the tribe. A breakdown of the four-county data shows that support was the highest in Waukesha County, where 63% of the respondents favored the project. Racine County residents polled were 62% in favor, Milwaukee County residents were 58% in favor of the project, and Kenosha County residents were 60% in favor.

The survey of those respondents showed that all age groups in the four-county area indicated a majority of support for the project, according to the tribe. The group showing the highest amount of support – 67% approval – were respondents in the 35-54 years-old group. In Kenosha, a younger demographic group topped the support list, with 74% of people between 18 and 34 years in aged in favor of the project.

Casino plans

The new site for the project 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 in July to sell the 59.2 acres to Hard Rock for about $15 million.

Corn, Sr. said in July that the new Hard Rock Kenosha project would be trimmed back from 2015 plans to reflect the increased number of gaming facilities in both Wisconsin and northern Illinois. In addition to the casino, the project will include a hotel, Hard Rock Cafe, a live music venue and other amenities.

The previous casino and entertainment center project proposed by the Menominee Tribe and Hard Rock 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.

That project was approved by the City of Kenosha, Kenosha County, and the U.S. Bureau of Indian Affairs and Department of the Interior. But off-reservation casinos by Native American tribes must also receive the approval of the governor, which is why Walker was able to block the project.

The former Dairyland Greyhound Park site is now being redeveloped into a mix of commercial and residential uses.

Since the new casino proposal by the Menominee Tribe and Hard Rock is at a different site than the previous proposal, the project will have to develop a revised federal gaming application as well as negotiate updated intergovernmental agreements.

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Cara covers commercial and residential real estate. She has an extensive background in local government reporting and hopes to use her experience writing about both urban and rural redevelopment to better inform readers. Cara lives in Waukesha with her husband, a teenager, a toddler, a dog named Neutron, a bird named Potter, and a lizard named Peyoye. She loves music, food, and comedy, but not necessarily in that order.

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