HOLLYWOOD — After showcasing some of the biggest names in entertainment for more than a dozen years, Hard Rock Live, which opened in 2005, hosted its final show Feb. 24. Comedy icon Jerry Seinfeld was the last performer in the 5,500-seat indoor arena which is slated to be demolished as part of the massive new hotel, casino, retail and entertainment expansion underway on the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Hollywood property. A new venue for concerts and shows is part of the project.
After a private concert for Seminoles on July 6, 2005 that featured performances from country singer John Anderson, Grand Ole Opry country stars, rapper Ludacris and others, Hard Rock Live opened its doors to the public for the first time July 12, 2005. The arena was christened by Styx, REO Speedwagon and The Outlaws in front of a sold-out crowd that included Chairman Mitchell Cypress, President Moses Osceola and Hollywood Council Rep. Max B. Osceola Jr.
Before the year was over, the venue drew Kenny Loggins, Def Leppard, Tim McGraw, Kelly Clarkson, Meatloaf, Journey, Alice Cooper and Larry the Cable Guy, as well as a massive motorcycle show called Roadhouse 2005 and Jason Taylor’s ping pong tournament.
That summer Hard Rock Live welcomed its first boxing card. An August evening was headlined by a heavyweight bout between U.S. Olympian gold medalist Ray “Merciless” Mercer and Shannon Briggs, who delivered a seventh round knockout. Boxing was by far the biggest sport at the venue, which also featured pro billiards, indoor football and other activities.
Also included in 2005 was the debut of the Tribe’s employee talent show. Brighton Seminole Casino’s Controller Montie Spivey won the grand prize.
In 2006, Hard Rock Live became the home for the annual Seminole Tribal Fair & Pow, which made its first appearance in the venue in its 35th year. Eventually, it also hosted holiday parties and concerts for the Tribe.
As for music, the stars kept coming to Hard Rock in year two with performances by Aerosmith, Bon Jovi, Bob Dylan, The Moody Blues, Kid Rock, and Hank Williams Jr. Future years brought the likes of Bruce Springsteen, Eric Clapton, Marc Anthony, Billy Joel and Andrea Bocelli. The list went on and on for more than a decade, lasting all the way up to the final performance from Seinfeld.
The new venue will be a theater-style configuration with 6,500-plus seats. It is scheduled to open in 2019. In the meantime, Hard Rock won’t be void of entertainment options. The recently-opened Hard Rock Event Center, in the northwest corner of the Hard Rock, seats 3,500. Its lineup includes Britney Spears, Harry Connick Jr., Huey Lewis, Donny & Marie, The Australian Pink Floyd Show, George Lopez and others.