Hard Rock Casino certified to send to Illinois Gaming Board

ROCKFORD, Ill (WIFR) -- "I am so happy we can finish saying former clock tower site and just say the new Hard Rock Site," says Rockford Mayor Tom McNamara during Monday's city council meeting.

Casino plans move forward

Council members voted 11-1 with one abstained vote to certify the Hard Rock Casino proposal and send it to the Illinois Gaming Board.

"We're eager to turn that support into jobs, tax revenues for the City of Rockford, and obviously we want to get in and get started before some neighboring states open some casinos," says Hard Rock's Chief Operating Officer Jon Lucas. Lucas says it's still not over, but he's thrilled the city took this step forward.

A common theme from alderperson remarks is that they want to do what's best for the city, and although that meant different things for each of them, they almost all agreed it was Hard Rock.

"I just hope it's a beginning of more businesses and such that come to our city and look at Rockford as a place to do business," says Alderperson Chad Tuneberg. "We're excited that Hard Rock is going to be putting money throughout the city, not just on the east side, but also downtown and on the west side."

Lucas agrees, and says he understands the need to include the west side. "We hear the council loud and clear that the west side is very important," he explains. "We will do everything we can to help create jobs for them, and make sure they can get here to work at that facility coming from the west side."

Part of a Host Community Agreement with Hard Rock developers states they will provide dependable employee shuttle services from city locations to the casino off of I-90 for it's 1,000 employees. Eight hundred employees will also work on a full-time basis with benefits.

The developer will pay the city temporary and permanent casino payments to mitigate community impacts from construction. The temporary casino payments equal 15 percent of net income no less than $1,820,000 during the first 12 months of operations. Five percent of net income will be paid each of the following 12 months.

The Illinois Gaming Board has 12 months to review and grant a license to the Hard Rock.