Menominee will try again to open Hard Rock casino in Kenosha

Seven years after its bid to open a casino in Kenosha failed, the Menominee Indian Tribe of Wisconsin (MITW) has announced that it will rekindle its plan to open a casino and entertainment venue in the City of Kenosha with Hard Rock International as a partner.

However, instead of focusing on the former Dairyland dog racing track, as the previous did, the tribe is considering efforts a 60-acre site less than a mile away just west of Interstate I-94.

While the earlier plan was approved by the City of Kenosha, County of Kenosha, and the United States Bureau of Indian Affairs and the Department of the Interior in 2015, it was stymied by then-Gov. Scott Walker.

The tribe had even offered to contribute more than $200 million for a Bucks arena if its plan was approved. The offer was not accepted.

“Much has changed since our 2015 effort, but the needs of our tribe and its members have continued and in some cases grown more,” said Menominee Chairman Ronald J. Corn, statement Sr., in a issued Wednesday.

“We need to make greater investments into health care for our children and
elders; we need to make more investments into educating our young people; And we need to do more to reduce the high levels of poverty, hunger and unemployment on our reservation. A casino and entertainment center in the City of Kenosha is the best path for our tribe to obtain the resources to help achieve those important goals.”

In the new plan, the Menominee would own the casino and Hard Rock – owned by the Seminole Tribe and based in Florida – would develop and manage it.

“Hard Rock has a long standing partnership with the Menominee Tribe and is proud to support them in their continued efforts to bring a world-class gaming and entertainment resort to the Kenosha community,” said Hard Rock International
COO Jon Lucas in Wednesday’s statement.

The new plan also scales back the size of the casino portion, “to reflect the increased number of gaming facilities in both Wisconsin and northern Illinois,” the statement noted, without providing specifics.

“The proposed project will not be as big as it was previously envisioned, but it will still create jobs and be substantial. It will still be a Hard Rock brand and be an incredible addition to the community, the local and regional economy, and the state,” Corn said.

Hard Rock has secured an option on the new site, which was previously owned by the Village of Bristol.

Because of the location change, the project again requires a federal gaming application and newly negotiated intergovernmental agreements, the statement noted.

“We are sincerely grateful for the positive working relationship we have had over the years with the City of Kenosha, Kenosha County, the local business community, and the countless residents who have supported our previous efforts,” said Corn.

“We are looking forward to re-engaging with the community as our talks with the City and County take shape. We have always said it must be good for Kenosha to be good for Menominee, and we are excited about getting the process started.”

No timeline or project cost has been announced.

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