Hard Rock may expedite casino, hotel build

Published: May. 10, 2022 at 6:16 PM CDT
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ROCKFORD, Ill. (WIFR) - Hard Rock Rockford organizers want to speed up plans to bring a hotel to the Forest City.

Officials say the success of the Rockford Casino: A Hard Rock Opening Act is exciting, but the goal is to bring visitors from out of town to the area, which means they need a place to stay.

Operating since November 2021, the temporary casino has raked in over $25 million in revenue, according to the Illinois Gaming Board.

Hard Rock President Geno Iafrate says he’s happy area residents are enjoying the casino, but his goal is to bring visitors from out of town- and that means providing a hotel experience when they come here.

“Everyone in Rockford and the Rockford region, Winnebago county, Boone county, it’s going to be a great amenity and a great addition to the community. But this has always been about bringing people in from further away,” he told 23 News.

Many Rockford leaders say they are all in, standing fully behind Iafrate’s plan.

“I know it wasn’t planned, but I think for Hard Rock, for the city of Rockford as an organization and for our community, it’s a positive thing and I think now would be a great time to do it,” said Rockford Mayor Tom McNamara.

McNamara says the hotel is needed now because many teams that participate in area amateur sports tournaments must stay in places like Janesville because there are no hotel vacancies in and around Rockford.

A grand opening is expected at the end of 2023 or early 2024 revealing phase 1 of the project including a few restaurants, a concert venue and the casino itself.

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