Hard Rock gives 's Taj Mahal a $500MILLION makeover

When the Taj Mahal casino opened in Atlantic City in 1990, owner Donald called it the 'eighth wonder of the world'. 

Its towers and elephant statues were a famous site on the boardwalk until 2016, when the property closed after a labor dispute and years of losing money. 

Hard Rock then bought the building, stripped it of any ties to its previous owner, gave it a $500million facelift and a new name.

It took them just eight months to turn the venue around. 

The brand new, sparkling, Hard Rock Hotel and Casino opened its doors this week with 2,000 rooms. 

It was one of two casinos to open in Atlantic City in a move owners and the residents hope will revitalize a city that has seen a dwindling number of citizens and flirted with bankruptcy.  

Hard Rock Hotel and Casino has opened in Atlantic City in the same building as the Taj Mahal, which closed in 2014 after suffering financial problems for years 

Patrons explore the Hard Rock Cafe Hotel & Casino on Thursday, June 28, 2018, in Atlantic City, on the opening day 

Patrons explore the Hard Rock Cafe Hotel & Casino on Thursday, June 28, 2018, in Atlantic City, on the opening day 

The two towers of the Hard Rock stretch high above the Atlantic City skyline. The area has struggled in recent years 

The two towers of the Hard Rock stretch high above the Atlantic City skyline. The area has struggled in recent years 

More than a million people were expected to descend on the New Jersey seaside town over the weekend.  

All that is left of the Taj Mahal is a strip club and a steakhouse. The interior is now covered with rock memorabilia and enormous guitars.    

It has 2,200 slots and 120 table games, in addition to more than 20 restaurants, lounges and premier entertainment venues.

'This is a historical day for both Hard Rock and Atlantic City and we're thrilled to welcome brand enthusiasts, locals, families and music lovers with open arms to experience our one-of-a-kind offering,' said Jim Allen, chairman and CEO of Hard Rock International. 'We are grateful for our partners, and together, we completed the more than $500 million renovation in record time.'

Hard Rock held a mass guitar smashing ceremony inside its concert arena that holds nearly 8,000 fans. Black Panther and Creed star Michael B. Jordan was among those helping to christen the facility. 

The Ocean also opened its doors further down the boardwalk. 

The mood was celebratory in a city that has had little to celebrate in recent years. The Hard Rock received a slew of bookings for the opening weekend. 

However, some of the rooms were still unfinished and were filled with contractors applying the finishing touches.

In some rooms the air conditioning and  TVs were not working. 

The hotel also suffered a small setback before it opened last week when contractors realized they had written 'rhythem' on the 30ft guitar outside, and were forced to replace it.

The hotel suffered a small setback before it opened last week when contractors realized they had written 'rhythem' on the 30ft guitar outside, and were forced to replace it

After losing five of its 12 casinos since 2014, Atlantic City now has nine. The openings have generated cautious optimism for the seaside gambling resort that once was the only place in America outside Nevada with casinos, but which has struggled mightily as gambling spread in surrounding states.

But over the weekend, the city said a million visitors would have graced the boardwalk for the the openings of the two new hotels and a concert on the beach.  

'We believe in Atlantic City,' Allen said. 'We truly believe that Atlantic City's best days are in front of it.'

When asked how they had dealt with 's legacy, Allen said that the Hard Rock does not get involved in any party politics or political activism.

But he did say there was no way they would have left any remnants of another brand.

He did, however, admit that some of the features such as the parking garage were in 'pretty bad shape' when they started working on the project.  

The two shuttered casinos reopened ahead of schedule Wednesday afternoon after being cleared to do so by New Jersey gambling regulators. Allen said the company had spent $500 million renovating the former Taj Mahal property.

'We promised you we wouldn't just paint it and put up a guitar,' he said. 

Atlantic City Mayor Frank Gilliam said the area where the Hard Rock now stands was dormant for years. Many visitors were visiting the other casinos and weren't going on the rides at the Steel Pier.

He said that the city is still 'open for business' and hopes the openings are a segway into a new era. 

The Taj Mahal closed in 2016 after losing money for years.

The iconic casino's death sentence was signed when negotiations with an employees' union broke down.

Billionaire investor Carl Icahn, who took over the hotel and casino from , said they lost $350million in 'just a few short years.

Some of the 3,000 staff who lost their job have been offered jobs at the Hard Rock and there is virtually nothing left in the building from when was the owner.  

The Hard Rock also kept the Mark Etess Arena, but increased the capacity to 7,700 spectators. The arena was named after Mark Grossinger Etess, a former president and COO of Plaza. Etess died in a helicopter crash in October 1989

The opening ceremony with the guitar smash and the opening concert with Carrie Underwood was held inside.

Underwood, who normally sells out arenas double the size, was faced with empty seats with many tickets for the opening night. 

Atlantic City now has nine casinos; it had 12 before 2014.

The Hard Rock is the former Taj Mahal, and Ocean Resort is the former Revel.

They were two of the five Atlantic City casinos that had shut down since 2014. Together, they will restore about 6,000 of the 11,000 jobs that were lost in the shutdowns.

Those who remember the heavy-handed decorating taste of Donald and Ivana from the Taj Mahal days won't recognize the place: The row after row of chandeliers dominating the view as patrons would ride the main escalator down to the

read more from dailymail.....

Get the latest news delivered to your inbox

Follow us on social media networks

PREV Famous abandoned farmhouse becomes latest victim of Oregon wildfires
NEXT Israel hits Gaza with airstrikes and sends in tanks against militant sites