A sign outside the Northfield Park grandstand refers to the facility as "Cleveland's Casino." There's never been a true casino there, but there's one nearly completed next door. Officials and workers celebrated the topping out of the new Hard Rock Rocksino Thursday.
The event, which coincided with the placing of the new building's final beam, also featured an announcement that former Browns quarterback Bernie Kosar is partnering with the racino on a steakhouse inside the facility. "Kosar's Wood-Fired Grill" will feature memorabilia from Bernie Kosar's football career. A particular emphasis will be placed on Kosar's years with the Browns, although Hard Rock Rocksino Northfield Park President Jon Lucas said items from his time in high school and at the University of Miami will be on display.
"He's a legend in the community and here in Northeast Ohio," Lucas said. "We really wanted to bring some local flavor here to this particular project and we thought a partnership with Bernie Kosar was a great way to do it."
Northfield Park and Milstein Entertainment CEO Brock Milstein said the partnership is especially gratifying for him as a lifelong Browns fan.
"Bernie represents all of the great things that we've accomplished here in the community," he said.
Lucas also announced the racino's first job fair. It will be held Sept. 12 at Northfield Park. Hard Rock plans to hire around 700 people. Some of the jobs are already posted online.
The opening of the Hard Rock is set for December. When completed, it will be the state's third horse track racino and the third casino-style gambling establishment in Northeast Ohio after the Horseshoe Casino in Downtown Cleveland and Thistledown Racino in North Randall. Hard Rock Rocksino Northfield Park and Thistledown Racino are separated by just six miles of Northfield Road. Thistledown has until next June to decide whether to stay in North Randall or move to a location in the Akron area where it would be further away from its competitors.
Could the Thistledown race track be moving to the Akron area?
The Plain Dealer reports that such a move is being discussed now among the track's owners and state officials...the result of a proposal to add slot machines at the horse racing track currently located in North Randall.
Rock Ohio Caesars owns both Thistledown and the soon-to-open Horseshoe Casino on Cleveland's Public Square. The company wants to reduce competition to its own new casino by moving the race track and slots operation.
The Beacon Journal reports that Summit County officials say Thistledown could move to near the Akron-Canton Airport or to the Mogadore area.
Rock Ohio Caesars officials and the administration of Gov. Kasich are talking about the potential move.
No slot machines have yet been installed at horse racing tracks, as the industry awaits the outcome of a lawsuit filed by anti-gambling interests.
On the Web: Cleveland Plain Dealer, www.cleveland.com
Akron Beacon Journal, www.ohio.com