Hard Rock International unfurled its banner in the Japan IR race with a major concert by Grammy award winning alternative rock band Muse and a press conference. The event also featured a new Japan-oriented logo, “Hard Rock Experience,” with a Japanese-language subtitle which translates as “The Future of a Japan-Style IR.”
The Muse concert was held in the Yokohama Arena in front of an audience well in excess of 10,000 people.
At the press conference, Edward Tracy, Hard Rock’s CEO for Asia, emphasized that his company stands apart from other international IR operators in terms of its origins and orientation: “Entertainment is our DNA. We are an entertainment company first and a casino company second.”
He explained that Hard Rock would be bidding for both large urban IRs as well as regional locations, and revealed that they had already submitted plans to two local governments, though he declined to name them.
When asked about the level of investment Hard Rock was prepared to make, Tracy answered as follows: “If I was a journalist, I would be asking all these companies who say ‘I’m going to spend US$10 billion.’ My question would be, ‘How do you know that?’ If you don’t know where it’s going to go, you don’t know what the tax rate is, you don’t know if you are going to have a mandated partner, and if so how much, how can you possibly know what your capital structure is?”
Nevertheless, he expressed full confidence that Hard Rock was suffering no disadvantages in this respect: “Frankly, we have the best balance sheet in the business, so it’s not a challenge for us and we don’t have to brag about it. We do it.”