It's been a long time coming, but the reality of expanded gaming at Northfield Park is here, as the Hard Rock Rocksino opens Dec. 18.
For years, as the state struggled with ballot issues and legal battles over whether casino-type gambling should be allowed in Ohio, hopes in Northfield Village were that a multi-million dollar gaming venue would bring prosperity to the little square-mile of land surrounding the former drive-in and Summit Plaza.
Village leaders joined forces with state and county officials, who allied with Northfield Park and other horse racing interests to continue the push, which we now see has come to fruition in the form of Hard Rock International's partnership with Northfield Park. According to track officials, the race track's long-range future had been in doubt, as the lack of extra revenue from expanded gaming kept purses sparse, unable to compete with horse racing facilities in neighboring states with casinos.
Whether one agrees with gambling or not, it is a fact of life in modern-day America. What has happened in Ohio, with four casinos and video slots at seven horse racing tracks, is merely the answer to competition that threatened to turn Northfield Park into a vacant expanse of asphalt, despite its iconic grandstand and decades-old tradition of racing.
Instead, a unique entertainment destination has been built in that parking lot, with restaurants, a comedy club and auditorium that likely will rival any concert venue in Northeast Ohio.
Village officials are gearing up for the influx of visitors, who are expected to travel hundreds of miles to enjoy Hard Rock's offerings. And area communities are also expecting to see an upswing in business due to their proximity to the added traffic.
Kudos to those who fought for the change. Your efforts have succeeded in bringing to pass a dramatic new chapter in our area's history.