Cheap Trick’s Rick Nielsen crashes Hard Rock Rockford groundbreaking

Hard Rock Guitar Smash Rick Nielsen
Image: Shutterstock

Hard Rock Casino lived up to its name with a groundbreaking ceremony for its new Rockford, Illinois casino that included a little rock and roll.

Instead of shoveling some dirt, the Hard Rock brand prefers to celebrate with a guitar smash. This one was interrupted by Rockford native and Cheap Trick guitarist Rick Nielsen.

“Wait a minute! You can’t smash guitars without me,” he said.

Rockford Casino a temporary facility for Hard Rock

Instead, the crew settled on a ribbon cutting on the company’s first Illinois casino. Once the property is complete, it will feature a 37,000-square-foot gaming floor with over 600 slots and state-of-the-art Interblock Electronic Table Games.

However, this is just a prelude for the permanent casino, which will open one mile down the road. This temporary venue, called Rockford Casino: A Hard Rock Opening Act, will nonetheless feature some amenities beyond gaming, including two restaurants.

“We knew from day one that Rockford was the best fit for our casino, thanks to their energy and passion for this project as well as our great working relationship with local leaders,” said Jon Lucas, COO of Hard Rock International. “As this project moved forward, we made it a priority to bring on new vendors and team members from the greater Rockford area to further ingrain ourselves in this community and reaffirm the commitment we made from day one to be an active member of this region for years to come.”

Hard Rock seeking Illinois sports betting license

While the property is being built, Hard Rock is already taking steps to enter the online betting market in the state. The company submitted its application for a sports wagering license to the state this week. The company intends to offer retail and online betting, but the temporary casino will not feature a sportsbook, only the final property. Illinois is the latest state in a major rollout of the Hard Rock sports betting product.

“The Rockford community has been wanting and waiting for a casino for nearly three decades,” said Rockford Mayor Tom McNamara. “After much hard work by the community, City staff, and Hard Rock, today marks a pivotal moment in our history with the opening of the Hard Rock Rockford Casino. This new facility will be a regional destination for visitors, as well as an economic driver in our community by providing hundreds of jobs to our residents.”

Nielsen’s guitars will be part of final Hard Rock Casino Rockford

Expect more from Nielsen beyond the guitar smash as well. His memorabilia will be part of the finished product, in proper Hard Rock style.

“I’ve visited over half of the Hard Rock locations throughout the world and have seen my guitars in almost every one of them and now, they’ve made it to Rockford,” says Rock & Roll Legend and Rockford native Rick Nielsen of Cheap Trick. “I could not be more excited to showcase my collection of guitars with my Rockford neighbors, friends and those visiting our region.”