A $20 million plan to renovate the MetroCentre is still alive tonight. The county board gave its OK, regardles of whether an AHL hockey team will play there.
This was the current board's final meeting before new members take over, but the outgoing members chose not to dwell on the past. Tonight was all about looking forward to Rockford's economic future.
The board voted unanimously to give its initial approval to revamp the MetroCentre. Members called the Centre the city's economic engine. They said if it were to fall into further disrepair, it could bring all of downtown down with it.
In passing the resolution, the county agreed to join the city in funding the renovations. Over the next twenty years the county will pay out 450-thousand dollars a year on top of Rockford's $912,000 and $400,000 from the MetroCentre. The county will pay its share from existing funds.
MetroCentre Authority Board Chairman Gary Marzorati is happy with the decision. He says, "The main thing we're trying to get accomplished is the renovation and we're just thrilled that the county and the city have both passed it unanimously."
During tonight's meeting, Marzorati assured the board the renovations will go forward no matter what team skates there next year and that is still very much up in the air.
If the Blackhawks deal does not go through, the budget will change before the final phase.
There is a long road ahead before we reach that final phase. The city will hold two more meetings regarding bonds they'll sell to fund renovations. After that the city and county must reach an agreement to finalize plans. That could be up to two months away.