Hard Rock confirms bid for huge Athens development

28 August 2019

Hard Rock International has submitted a bid for a licence to operate the planned integrated resort and casino at the site of the former Hellinikon Airport on the outskirts of the Greek capital, Athens.

Hard Rock International chairman and chief executive Jim Allen confirmed the operator’s participation in the Greek Government’s request-for-proposal (RFP) process at a press conference in the city.

The company said that it had been working on the project for more than 18 months, while construction would take between 24 and 26 months.

The RFP process itself has been postponed on numerous occasions this year. However, there are hopes that work on the site of the former international airport, which has remained empty since 2001, could start before the end of 2019 after the incoming administration underlined its commitment to the project following a snap general election last month.

Allen said: “We have always believed Athens to be one of the world’s great gateway cities and Hard Rock International envisions creating a must-see destination that will help draw from the over 120 million annual guests across 74 countries, driving year-round tourism and being an economic driver for Greece.

“This marks another step in the Company’s efforts to expand our world-class brand of entertainment and hospitality to Europe.”

Allen, who was speaking at the city’s Hard Rock Café, added that his company had already demonstrated a commitment to the city and country during Greece’s financial turmoil.

“This announcement continues to illustrate Hard Rock’s commitment to Greece and the great city of Athens following our investment in the company-owned Athens Café when no one else was investing during the financial crisis in 2014,” he said.

In July, US casino operator Mohegan Gaming & Entertainment announced its intention to submit a joint bid for the 30-year casino licence at Hellinikon with Greek construction business GEK Terna. So far, no other firm bids have been announced.

The $8bn integrated resort project, which will feature six giant buildings that will tower up to 200 metres tall, is being led by a consortium headed by local developer Lamda Development.

Hard Rock International, which operates venues in 74 countries, including cafés, shops, hotels and 11 casinos, is keen to expand its global footprint.

In January, the company unveiled plans to build an integrated entertainment resort on the Japanese island of Hokkaido in an effort to secure one of three casino gambling licences in the country.

Image: The Hellinikon Project / Lamda Development