Hard Rock to spend €2 billion on leisure and gambling park in Catalonia
The firm presented the details of the project to enthusiastic responses from local officials involved but also some criticism
Hard Rock International will invest around €2 billion in the leisure and gambling park on the southern Catalonian coast, which is expected to create 11,500 jobs both directly and indirectly in its first stage, the company announced this Monday. Some of the details of the complex were also unveiled, including a casino, hotels, shops, restaurants, and a concert hall in a 745,000-square meter space. The Catalan government will have to decide whether to approve on Hard Rock’s specific project between now and mid-September.
The American firm plans to build the complex in multiple phases, the first of which will include a casino with 1,200 slot machines and 100 table games, as well as a family-oriented hotel developed by the amusement park PortAventura that will have a total capacity of 500 rooms. This stage will also feature 75 luxury shops developed by Value Retail. Around 2,176 direct jobs are expected to be created – a number which increases to 11,500 when adding indirect jobs– and €600 million will be invested in the first phase, according to estimates by Hard Rock, with an impact to the region of more than €1.3 billion.
The plans include a 6,000-square meter swimming pool, a concert hall with capacity for 15,000 people, and a space for regional and international shows, according to the company. Hard Rock also projects the development of a second hotel with 600 rooms and an area of 100,000 square meters, built in the shape of a guitar, one of the symbols linked to the chain.
"We’ll be like Orlando at a European level"
Pere Granados · Salou mayor
This project has long been controversial, with both supporters and critics. The Catalan government considers it “an investment of global interest,” the secretary of finance, Lluís Salvadó, said after officially opening the box containing the details of the plan. Moreover, he gave a positive review of the future complex´s name, announced also on Monday: Hard Rock Entertainment World. Although there is no mention of any Catalan places, the central space containing the casino and the hotels is to be called Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Tarragona, referring to the area where the project is to be developed. There will also be a space called ‘Tarragona Village’.
The Tarragona Chamber of Commerce and the two mayors of the towns where the complex is to be built, Salou and Vila-seca, have expressed enthusiasm about the project. “This is where it all begins. Other theme parks will come, this is a knock-on effect. We’ll be like Orlando at a European level,” Salou mayor Pere Granados said. His counterpart in Vila-seca also expressed a positive outlook on the project, highlighting the collaboration of firms PortAventura and Value Retail. “We see the opportunity for very interesting synergies,” he said.
Nevertheless, not everyone is so delighted with Hard Rock’s plans. “Are we continuing the monoculture of tourism? Are we selling our territory? Investing whatever the cost?,” far-left CUP member of the Catalan Parliament Eulàlia Reguant commented on Twitter. Stop BCN World organization –which took its name from the first name of the project– presented on Monday a lawsuit against the urban guidelines to develop the complex made by the Catalan government in 2016.
Hard Rock Entertainment World is to be built near PortAventura, where Ferrari Land opened to great fanfare on April 6 of this year. The 70,000 square metre complex includes the spectacular Red Force roller coaster, which simulates the Formula 1 experience by accelerating from 0 to 180 km/h in five seconds, while sending riders 112 meters up in the air. The whole area is in Costa Daurada, the Golden Coast, which is already a popular tourist area, with cities like Salou being visited by thousands of holidaymakers every year.