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WSTG Director Mark Spencer, standing, Gary Community School Corporation’s Chelsea Whittington interviews Jackie and Tito

Jackson Brothers answer call to come back to Indiana

Contributed By:The 411 News

Add Hard Rock Gary to the list of places to be in 2021

Who better than the Jackson Brothers could add to the luster for Thursday’s turning of the dirt for Gary’s new Hard Rock Casino? First brother Jackie, 2nd brother Tito, and brother number 4 Marlon, of the original Jackson Five, came back to Indiana this week to add their blessings to the state’s first land-based casino.

Marlon Jackson called it the coming together of 3 special brands – Hard Rock International, Spectacle Entertainment, and the Jackson Brothers – to make Gary’s the best Hard Rock Casino in the world.

Spectacle Entertainment CEO Ron Ratcliff said the new casino, at the Burr Street exit of I-80/94, will open in Spring 2021. Spectacle’s purchase of Majestic Star Casinos in 2018 helped propel local efforts that have long wanted to move Gary’s riverboat casino away from Buffington Harbor.

Spectacle contracted with Hard Rock to brand and operate the casino.

“Instead of a ribbon cutting, we’ll be smashing guitars,” said Jon Lucas, chief operating officer of Hard Rock International. With him was Marcellus Osceola, council chairman of the Seminole Tribe of Florida which owns Hard Rock International. In October, the Seminole Tribe smashed guitars at the grand opening of its 36-story guitar shaped hotel and a casino that seats 7,000 in Hollywood, FL.

Gary’s Hard Rock is undergoing phase one of construction, starting with the 200,000 square ft. entertainment complex of 1,650 slots and 80 table games, 6 food venues, a bar and sportsbook, retail store, and a 2,000 seat entertainment showroom. Phase two begins in 2 years with the construction of a 200-300 room hotel.

Osceola said the casino will impact more than Gary. “It will impact globally and the state of Indiana. I think the Jackson Five have demonstrated it. People will come here and buy food, gas, and trinkets from local vendors in the area.”

Hard Rock’s brand focuses on music, entertainment and their associated memorabilia. It’s a place where the Jackson Brothers fit in well. Marlon said the brothers will also work to “make the house in Gary something special.” He was referring to the family home at 2300 Jackson Street.

West Side Theatre Guild, inside of Gary’s West Side Leadership Academy, got its chance to do a special showcase for Jackie and Tito, Wednesday. “You don’t know how many times we did tributes to you,” the Theatre Guild’s director Mark Spencer told the family.

Spencer was only given an hour of their time that he stretched a bit to display performances by student dancers, band and orchestra members, a scene from the “Lion King, Jr.” in the black box theatre, dance and vocal performances from the stage of the 2,000 seat auditorium, and a visit to the recording studio.

The new television studio was the final stop. Jackie and Tito would be the first interview broadcast from WSTG-TV. Spencer said he hopes to develop student produced weekly broadcasts and eventually a television series. “Our students deserve and need it.”

Former Gary Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson, l-r, Marlon, Jackie, Tito, former State Sen. Earline Rogers, and Gary Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Chuck Hughes at ceremonial groundbreaking

Story Posted:01/09/2020

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