After weeks of debate, the Rockford city council gives its approval to MetroCentre renovation plans tonight. But the vote doesn't have everyone's support.
Rockford's big orange box is one big step closer to getting a facelift. The city council voted ten to one tonight to start the process of selling $23 million in bonds for the project. 3 million of that could be used to bring in an A.H.L. Chicago Blackhawks franchise. To the dismay of some fans.
"There's a sense of support for the city that I don't think we'll have with the Blackhawks and that's really fearful for me because I don't want to lose hockey," says IceHogs fan Carol Chevchuc.
Alderman Frank Beach proposed an amendment to separate the $20 million needed for renovations from the $3 million for the A.H.L. team. The council voted that down.
Current IceHogs owner Kris Tumilowicz says he feels betrayed by the city. He says, "It's a hostile takeover, it's eminent domain of a business, instead of just real estate."
Alderman Jeff Holt, D-11, says right now the council is just focused on renovations.
"We're hopeful that the negotiations with the IceHogs whether it's them remaining in the MetroCentre or whether another team comes to the MetroCentre, will be successful in the upcoming weeks, but we need to move forward with the renovations to the project," says Holt.
But IceHogs owners say they think those negotiations are over and they'll look at taking the IceHogs elsewhere.
MetroCentre General Manager Corey Pearson, says nothing is set in stone yet.
"Our plan is to look at what it takes to make the building work and make it work long term and that's something we have to review," says Pearson.
The bond sale is set for mid-February. The council will vote again before that time to decide exactly how much to sell and exactly what the money will go to fund.
The Winnebago county board will weigh on the issue Thursday. They're part of the three-way team funding the project along with the city and the MetroCentre itself.