Seminoles' Hard Rock Cafe joins N.Y. Yankees

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NEW YORK - Two supremely American elements of popular culture - rock 'n' roll and baseball - will come together next year when the Seminole Tribe of Florida opens a Hard Rock Cafe at the new Yankee Stadium in the Bronx.

At a press conference June 18, Jim Allen, president and CEO of Seminole Hard Rock Entertainment, and Lonn Trost, Yankees CEO, announced they have struck an agreement to open a Hard Rock Cafe at the new high-tech Yankee Stadium near the main entrance when the $1.3 billion stadium opens next April.

''I always say to my friends and family, 'Go to any airport in the world and if you don't see a New York Yankees hat or a Hard Rock shirt, you must be blind, because they're truly two of the greatest icons both obviously in sports and in the restaurant and hospitality industry'; and we're so proud today to be able to be partnering with the New York Yankees and be part of this tremendous building that they're building,'' Allen said.

In March 2007, the tribe finalized its $965 million purchase of Hard Rock International in what is believed to be the first major acquisition of an international corporation by an American Indian tribe.

The purchase included a network of 124 signature Hard Rock Cafes in 46 countries, and the world's largest collection of rock memorabilia - around 70,000 items.

With the purchase of Hard Rock International, the tribe acquired a total of 68 company-owned Hard Rock Cafe restaurants and retail stores in the United States, Canada, Europe, Australia and Puerto Rico. In addition, the tribe acquired licensing or franchise agreements for another 56 restaurants and five hotels, plus Hard Rock Live performance venues.

Last July, the tribe announced plans to double the number of Hard Rock Cafes to about 250 and increase the number of hotels to 90.

The new Yankee Stadium Hard Rock Cafe will be the second to open in New York. There is a Hard Rock Cafe in Times Square in Manhattan.

''It's a wonderful addition to the Yankee Stadium, the local community, the Bronx and New York City,'' Trost said.

The two executives also announced that Hard Rock International had entered a partnership with the baseball team to open a second restaurant at the stadium called NYY Steak, which will be located above the Hard Rock Cafe.

Both restaurants will be open year round and will be available both to ticket holders and non-ticket holders, but the restaurant patrons won't be able to see the Yankees play because the field isn't visible from the restaurants.

The Hard Rock Cafe will occupy 7,000 square feet and seat 210. The steak restaurant will seat 160.

NYY Steak is planned as the first in a chain of restaurants, tribal spokesman Gary Bitner said.

''It's a new concept being developed as a joint venture and it will be expanded and become a successful restaurant in many other parts of the country and around the world. It's based on the successful restaurant concept the tribe has developed at the Council Oak Steaks & Seafood restaurant at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Tampa and Hollywood [Florida], an upscale steak restaurant named after the council tree where the elders of the tribe met in Hollywood [Florida] for

generations, and that concept will become the concept of the new NYY Steak.''

The new steak restaurants won't be using the Seminoles' brand of beef, at least not yet, Bitner said.

Last March, the tribe announced a new business venture: branded beef products for the tribe's own ranching operation. The tribe raises more than 16,000 head of cattle on around 40,000 acres on its Big Cypress and Brighton reservations.

The ranches collectively are among the five largest cattle operations in the state, but the tribe also uses other sources of beef for its branded products. The beef is used at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Hollywood, Fla., where Seminole Beef hamburgers sell for $2.95 each.

The tribe and Yankees haven't yet announced other places around the country where the new NYY Steak restaurants will open.

The financial terms of the Hard Rock-Yankees partnerships were not announced.

The press conference was the first to be held at the new stadium, which is under construction. Yankees shortstop Alex Rodriguez attended and signed a Hard Rock guitar replica in a photo op at the event.