Rockford city staff recommends Hard Rock casino proposal

Courtesy: Hard Rock International
Courtesy: Hard Rock International(WIFR)
Published: Sep. 30, 2019 at 11:14 AM CDT
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The city of Rockford staff will recommend certification of the Hard Rock International casino proposal to the Illinois Gaming Board, per mayor Tom McNamara.

McNamara reviewed casino proposals from Hard Rock, Rock River West Casino Group, and Forest City Casino on Monday.

“After review and consideration of all the responses and weighing the totality of the strengths and weaknesses against the City’s objectives, City Staff recommends that the City Council certify the Hard Rock Proposal to the Illinois Gaming Board," says McNamara.

McNamara says Hard Rock has also agreed to a minimum payment of $7 million of gaming taxes to the city.

"Hard Rock has the strongest and most complete proposal. It’s financial structure is credible. The Hard Rock proposal includes realistic and sustainable minimum gambling tax guarantees, along with additional revenue from payments to offset impacts to the city."

Hard Rock's plan calls for a casino off of I-90 where the Iconic Rockford Clock Tower Resort once stood.

In a

last Monday, representatives announced the temporary location would be at Giovanni's Restaurant and Convention Center. Hard Rock would be able to open there within 90 days if they get the license.

The long-term location would include three restaurants and a 16,000-square-foot seating area for concerts. Hard Rock has partnered with the Rockford Park District and plans to invest in its programs.

"We think there's a great workforce here and we think it's located in a great place that people are used to going to since they were kids," said Jeff Hook, executive vice president of development and marketing for Hard Rock International, at last week's public hearing. "At the old clock tower site, we're looking forward to smooth sailing here."

McNamara says city staff were not in a position to recommend the Forest City casino proposal over lack of equity funding details, nor the Gorman proposal, which has not secured an operator.

"My responsibility as mayor, and that of our team and the city council, was to select the proposal or proposals that had the best opportunity to provide the most benefits to Rockford,” says McNamara.

The recommendation will be reviewed at Monday's city council meeting. All three applicants have been invited to the meeting.

McNamara explains the recommendation in a stream of the mayor's update below:

WATCH LIVE: Rockford mayor Tom McNamara is expected to provide an update on the city's casino proposals.

Posted by WIFR TV on Monday, September 30, 2019