By Bobby Tanzilo Senior Editor/Writer Published Jul 20, 2022 at 3:45 PM

Seven years after its bid to open a casino in Kenosha failed, the Menominee Indian Tribe of Wisconsin (MITW) has announced that it will rekindle its plan to open a casino and entertainment venue in the City of Kenosha with Hard Rock International as a partner.

However, instead of focusing on the former Dairyland dog racing track, as the previous efforts did, the tribe is considering a 60-acre site less than a mile away just west of Interstate I-94.

While the earlier plan was approved by the City of Kenosha, County of Kenosha, and United States Bureau of Indian Affairs and the Department of the Interior in 2015, it was stymied by then-Gov. Scott Walker.

The tribe had even offered to contribute more than $200 million for a Bucks arena if its plan was approved. The offer was not accepted.

“Much has changed since our 2015 effort, but the needs of our tribe and its members have continued and in some cases grown more acute,” said Menominee Chairman Ronald J. Corn, Sr., in a statement issued Wednesday.

“We need to make greater investments into health care for our children and
elders; we need to make more investments into educating our young people; and we need to do more to reduce the high levels of poverty, hunger and unemployment on our reservation. A casino and entertainment center in the City of Kenosha is the best path for our tribe to obtain the resources to help achieve those important goals.”

In the new plan, the Menominee would own the casino and Hard Rock – owned by the Seminole Tribe and based in Florida – would develop and manage it.

“Hard Rock has a long standing partnership with the Menominee Tribe and is proud to support them in their continued efforts to bring a world-class gaming and entertainment resort to the Kenosha community,” said Hard Rock International
COO Jon Lucas in Wednesday’s statement.

The new plan also scales back the size of the casino portion, “to reflect the increased number of gaming facilities in both Wisconsin and northern Illinois,” the statement noted, without providing specifics.

“The proposed project will not be as big as it was previously envisioned, but it will still create jobs and be substantial. It will still be a Hard Rock brand and be an incredible addition to the community, the local and regional economy, and the state,” Corn said.

Hard Rock has secured an option on the new site, which was previously owned by the Village of Bristol.

Because of the location change, the project again requires a federal gaming application and newly negotiated intergovernmental agreements, the statement noted.

“We are sincerely grateful for the positive working relationship we have had over the years with the City of Kenosha, Kenosha County, the local business community, and the countless residents who have supported our previous efforts,” said Corn.

“We look forward to re-engaging with the community as our talks with the City and County take shape. We have always said it must be good for Kenosha to be good for Menominee, and we are excited about getting the process started.”

No timeline or project cost has been announced.

Bobby Tanzilo Senior Editor/Writer

Born in Brooklyn, N.Y., where he lived until he was 17, Bobby received his BA-Mass Communications from UWM in 1989 and has lived in Walker's Point, Bay View, Enderis Park, South Milwaukee and on the East Side.

He has published three non-fiction books in Italy – including one about an event in Milwaukee history, which was published in the U.S. in autumn 2010. Four more books, all about Milwaukee, have been published by The History Press.

With his most recent band, The Yell Leaders, Bobby released four LPs and had a songs featured in episodes of TV's "Party of Five" and "Dawson's Creek," and films in Japan, South America and the U.S. The Yell Leaders were named the best unsigned band in their region by VH-1 as part of its Rock Across America 1998 Tour. Most recently, the band contributed tracks to a UK vinyl/CD tribute to the Redskins and collaborated on a track with Italian novelist Enrico Remmert.

He's produced three installments of the "OMCD" series of local music compilations for OnMilwaukee.com and in 2007 produced a CD of Italian music and poetry.

In 2005, he was awarded the City of Asti's (Italy) Journalism Prize for his work focusing on that area. He has also won awards from the Milwaukee Press Club.

He can be heard weekly on 88Nine Radio Milwaukee talking about his "Urban Spelunking" series of stories.