Memphians will soon be able to do more than play slots and watch greyhounds race when they travel across the bridge to Southland Park in West Memphis, thanks to a $37.4 million expansion and redesign of the gaming and racing facility.
The highlight of the expansion is Sammy Hagar's Red Rocker Bar & Grill. Southland Park Gaming and Racing partnered with Rock Hall of Famer Hagar to create the 150-seat sports bar.
The restaurant will feature hand-prepared, signature bar food like wings, burgers, jalapeno poppers, and pulled pork nachos as well as beer distilled at 29 degrees and Hagar's Cabo Wabo Tequila and Sammy's Beach Bar Rum.
"We realized in the market, there are some sports bars but nothing like this in terms of a partnership with Sammy Hagar," said Troy Keeping, Southland's president and general manager. "We have a living room concept. You can come out, have a casual, relaxing living room feeling and be able to order and eat at the coffee table. Or you can sit down at the regular restaurant."
The Red Rocker Bar & Grill will be adorned with a guitar chandelier, display cases featuring Hagar-signed rock memorabilia, 55 flat screen TVs, and a ceiling decorated with guitars. It's slated to open around Thanksgiving.
The 41,000-square-foot expansion also includes an extended gaming floor. Gaming options will expand to more than 1,750, and there will be a new grand entrance. LED lighting has been installed across the building's exterior, and Southland's valet station has been expanded from two to four lanes.
"The real issue was our valet," Keeping said. "We didn't have the capacity for the demand. What this has done is given us four lanes to handle the issue. And then we redesigned the traffic flow through the parking lot, so it's more of a boulevard that takes you right into valet. And then when you got in and you wanted to go eat at our restaurants, there was always a wait. And there were people waiting to play games, so you're trying to play a game, and there is someone standing behind you, waiting for you to get up. [This expansion] should alleviate some of the pressure on our existing outlets and grow our business."
Keeping said the expansion has been in the planning stage for about two years, but construction began in January. Prior to the latest endeavor, Southland underwent several revisions. In 2006, the lower grandstand of the facility's greyhound racetrack was replaced with a gaming floor. A few years later, in 2011, the gaming floor was expanded and the Shine Blounge, a large bar and lounge, was added. It began operation in 2012.
Since 2006, Keeping said almost $150 million has been invested in expanding the facility. He said he hopes the latest expansion drives more traffic to Southland and provides patrons with an unforgettable experience.
"I want them to walk in and go, 'Wow,' and I want them to have fun," Keeping said. "We've always done things with kind of a unique twist here. We really want people to come in and have a good time. We have something for everybody — from a sports bar to a buffet to a steakhouse to greyhound racing to gaming to black jack and poker. You name it, we've got it, and we want people to come over and have fun."
There will be a ribbon-cutting and grand opening ceremony to celebrate Southland's expansion on January 30th.