|By Rivkela Brodsky, Albuquerque Journal,
N.M.McClatchy-Tribune Regional News
Oct. 13, 2009--A Hard Rock Hotel & Casino is coming to the state -- although it's unclear who or what rock 'n' roll memorabilia is coming with it.
Isleta Casino & Resort announced Monday it had entered into a franchise agreement with Hard Rock Hotel Holdings LLC and HRHH IP LLC, dropping Isleta from the name and giving the casino a global brand name. It is not connected to the Hard Rock Cafe, which is a separate brand.
The transformation, which should be complete in the spring of next year, requires Isleta to spend "millions of dollars to bring the property to Hard Rock standards," Steve Neely, marketing director for Isleta Casino & Resort, told the Journal on Monday.
S ome r enovat ion wa s already completed in anticipation of the transformation, but a center bar -- something Hard Rock Casinos are known for -- will be built and $2 million in memorabilia will be going into the property, Neely said. Hard Rock experts will come in and advise what memorabilia will fit.
"We have final say as to what comes in but we rely on their expertise," he said, adding that this Hard Rock will be different from others around the county.
Neely said Isleta had been in negotiations with Hard Rock for four years, adding it took some time for tribal leaders to become comfortable with dropping Isleta from the casino name.
"It's really an important thing for (the tribe)," he said. "They really got behind this and they recognized that this isn't a partial commitment on their part. It's a full commitment."
Isleta opened its new $100 million hotel and resort in July of last year.
Neely also said the changeover will give the property a competitive edge, especially as the only Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in the state.
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