Hard Rock International’s Resort Plans for Spain Face New Resistance

In most parts of the world, Hard Rock International is a well-known, well-respected name in the casino and culinary industries. The area around Barcelona, Spain, may be the exception, as a multibillion-dollar project with the company’s name on it faces continued problems.

The Sagrada Familia Cathedral in Barcelona, Spain
The Sagrada Familia Cathedral in Barcelona, Spain
The Sagrada Familia Cathedral in Barcelona, Spain. Renewed efforts to try to prevent the decade-old project from advancing have arrived. (Image: Pinterest)

It’s been more than 10 years since the government of Catalonia in Northern Spain presented the construction of Barcelona World. The entertainment and gaming mega-complex would arise in Salou and Vila-seca in the province of Tarragona, ready to bring new tourism to the area.

While signs of progress in the project appear, opponents of the Hard Rock complex are intensifying their demonstrations. The fact that they’re part of a university-level group only makes the project’s future more questionable.

Hard Rock at a Crucial Crossroads

The Rovira i Virgili University (RVU), a public university in Tarragona, signed a letter that seeks to pressure the government to speed up the project. The Tarragona Chamber of Commerce launched the initiative in an effort to jump-start the stalled project.

Many of the school’s students joined sides with anti-Hard Rock establishment Aturem Hard Rock. They demand the rector of the university, Josep Pallarès, rescind its support.

The spokesman for Aturem Hard Rock, Eloi Redón, criticized the rector for supporting the private $2-billion endeavor. The group believes it will only contribute “poverty and precariousness” to the territory, and that it “attacks the environment.” It has repeatedly asserted that the development violates Spain’s environmental protection laws because of where it will be built.

For his part, the rector rejects the motion. He stated, according to local media outlet Diari Mes, that the RVU is in favor of initiatives that will lead to “economic growth.” He also stated that the university must be willing to support the community without taking a political stance. Redón insisted that being in favor of Hard Rock equates to playing politics.

The school and Aturem have agreed to meet in the coming weeks to address this issue. That gives students enough time to organize any anti-Hard Rock demonstrations they want, including sit-ins, marches, and anything else they can conjure up.

No Closer to a Resolution

Last November, the plenary session of the Parliament of Catalonia rejected a motion by a group of legislators in which they demanded that the government not approve the purchase of the land for the Hard Rock tourism project. At the same time, the mayor of Salou, Pere Granados, called on the government to be proactive in defending the plan, urging it to push forward.

In addition to that political in-fighting, the Ministry of Climate Action, Food and Rural Agenda of Catalonia released a report in which it requests changes in the development’s master plan. It argued that the original details didn’t meet environmental requirements, giving environmental activists a new cause with which to fuel their lobbying efforts against the complex.

Aturem jumped on it as well. Developers submitted a new master plan, but the opposition group isn’t backing down. It launched a new judicial appeal to the revised plan, which is still under review and which could set the project back a few more years.

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