Hard Rock gets new owners

December 7, 2006, 2:42 PM · Hard Rock's been part of the Universal property in Orlando ever since it opened as Universal Studios Florida in 1990. Now, the Hard Rock brand and chain of cafes and hotels will have a new owner -- and it is a Florida native.

Literally. The Seminole Nation of Florida has bought Hard Rock from London's Rank Group LLC, in a US$965 million deal. The Seminoles have had a relationship with Hard Rock in the past, thanks to the Seminole Hard Rock Casino in South Florida. Now, the gambling-enriched tribe will own and operate Hard Rock-branded properties around the world.

The deal will not affect ownership of the Hard Rock Park, under construction in Myrtle Beach, S.C. That park is owned by another group and licensed from Hard Rock (as is the Hard Rock Casino and Hotel in Las Vegas).

Random, but funny, note: I just finished reading Carl Hiaasen's latest "Nature Girl," and the Seminole/Hard Rock connection gets significant play in the book. The best line? When a white character mentions to the half-Seminole protagonist that the Seminole Nation never surrendered to U.S. authorities, unlike other Indian tribes, he responds, "It depends on what you mean by 'surrender.' We just booked Justin Timberlake at the Seminole Hard Rock for New Year's."

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