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Northfield Village -- With the announcer's voice and trumpet's call echoing in the distance, Northfield Park has had a decades-long presence in the village, where generations of residents have worked and played at the harness racing track.
With the addition of the Hard Rock Rocksino Northfield Park in 2013, the village entered a new era of prosperity, with income tax revenues tripling in just four years, from $1 million per year in 2011 to over $3.2 million in 2015.
There have been other benefits with the expansion of gaming in the state, as communities that host new gaming facilities have been compensated for expenses associated with the increase in visitors hoping to get lucky or to enjoy the entertainment provided by the new casinos and awkwardly named "racinos," as gaming venues associated with horse racing tracks have been named. Hard Rock International, which partnered with Northfield Park to build a racino in Northfield Village, picked "Rocksino" as a more emblematic name to describe the new musically inspired destination.
On Dec. 27, village officials accepted the last of $3 million in compensation the village has received since 2013 in the form of a $250,000 check handed over by Hard Rock Rocksino Northfield Park Chairman Brock Milstein.
"This is a continuation of the working relationship we've had with the village and we're proud of the success that we've had over the past three years," Milstein told the News Leader.
Village Mayor Jesse Nehez said the payment is "just another way that the Rocksino is working with us."
The 220,000-square-foot Rocksino cost $268 million and took just under one year to build, having broke ground in late December 2012 and opening on Dec. 18, 2013. It features 2,200 video lottery terminals, several restaurants, Club Velvet -- a nightclub that features comedy acts and other events, and the 2,100 seat Hard Rock Live concert venue.
Revenue from the village's 3 percent admissions tax -- much of which comes from events at the Rocksino -- is expected to top $170,000 this year, said village Finance Director Tricia Ingrassia.
The $250,000 handed over by the Rocksino Dec. 27 is part of a $500,000 payment the village received this year. Half of the payment came earlier this year from the state. The village received an identical $500,000 payment in 2015. The two payments are part of a settlement seeking more compensation for gaming communities between the state and gaming venue operators, said village Law Director Brad Bryan.
Previouly, in 2013 and 2014, the village received $1 million payments from the state's Casino Operators Settlement Fund as compensation.
Ingrassia said this year's $500,000 in compensation has been included in this year's budget.
While the money has not been earmarked for a specific purpose, Nehez said it will help the village pay for ongoing improvements, such as paving of the presidential neighborhood streets and Maple Avenue next year, new traffic signals at Ledge Road and design work for renovations being considered for Village Hall, the recently acquired former bank building on Route 8 next to village hall, and for an expansion of the village fire station on the south side of Summit Plaza.
Nehez said plans are to move village hall into the bank building, reserve village hall for use as a police station, and upgrade and expand the fire station.
Milstein said plans are in the works for "some new things that are coming on down the line" at the Rocksino as well.
While he declined to comment on specifics, such as plans for a hotel on the property, Milstein said patrons have something to look forward to.
"We're looking at a number of different options in order to provide a greater experience for our customers," he said.
Eric Marotta: 330-541-9433