More Support For MetroCentre Changes

By: Laura Gibbs
By: Laura Gibbs

Monday night's vote was regarding a makeover for the MetroCentre and perhaps movement on a new AHL hockey team. Rockford aldermen voted unanimously to support a Resolution of Intent. The intent is to eventually enter into an Intergovernmental Agreement between Rockford and Winnebago County. Both parties will chip in to fund renovations to the Rockford MetroCentre. The city will sell bonds over the next 20 years and then the MetroCentre will then reimburse the city. Monday night’s decision is just the first of many still to come before the council. The actual Intergovernmental agreement, an agreement to sell bonds and ordinances will follow. Alderman Jeff Holt said after the meeting, “We were told tonight one reason we were asked to pass this tonight is it's not binding on the council. It's a statement to move forward to get the county to come to an agreement with the city and once that's done we have to talk about it again. This is the first step to vote tonight and doesn't represent what any future vote might be."

Centre Events Chairman Gary Mazorati states, "We're very pleased and we're very appreciative of the city council to show that kind of enthusiasm for MetroCentre renovations."

The same situation will be placed before the Winnebago County Board Tuesday night. This is the last meeting before new members take over. Winnebago County would use landfill host fees to pay for the project.

Five people signed up to speak about the possible changes to the Rockford IceHogs along with the new and improved MetroCentre. One person not on the list was IceHogs Coach Steve Martinson. But the council granted him permission to speak. Martinson stated, “There is not one other city that has taken over a hockey team. Not one. There is not one city that has taken over a successful team. But there are no cities running their own team in professional hockey and you need to ask yourself. Why is that?"

As of right now it will be weeks before talks continue between IceHogs owners and the MetroCentre.

UHL Commissioner Richard Brosal says the IceHogs have been put in a “no win” situation. Brosal states, “To buy the name, buy the team, going into an AHL affiliation claiming that the Chicago Blackhawks bring so much. The City of Chicago doesn't even support the Blackhawks. When I hear comments about Blackhawks trying to get Rockford to bring those Chicago Blackhawks fans here, the Blackhawks aren't investing one dime. They get paid to have the affiliation. Brosal will make his position clear Tuesday night at the Winnebago County Board meeting.


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