Rockford Register Star: Hard Rock Casino Rockford wins City Council approval

Hard Rock Casino Rockford has won the blessing of City Council and its proposal now moves on for consideration by the Illinois Gaming Board.

City Council on an 11-1 vote Monday certified Hard Rock International’s $310 million proposal for a 65,000-square-foot casino, a Hard Rock Café and a 1,600-seat Hard Rock Live venue at the location of the former Clock Tower Resort on East State Street near the entrance to Interstate 90.

Although some aldermen believed it would be better to send more than one casino option to the state for consideration, City Council ultimately followed Mayor Tom McNamara’s recommendation to send a single favored choice to state authorities for a final decision. Hard Rock was chosen over two other proposals.

Hard Rock International Chief Operating Officer Jon Lucas said company officials appreciate the support of the city and are determined to win over skeptics.

“We are putting together a first-class facility that will make the residents of Rockford, the City Council, and the mayor, very, very proud,” Lucas said.

Alderwoman Linda McNeely provided the lone “no” vote. Alderman John Beck, R-12, abstained because his employer, the Rockford Park District, had endorsed the Hard Rock proposal. Alderwoman Ann Thompson-Kelly was absent.

McNeely said that all investors behind the project should be identified publicly and that she had hoped for more investment on the west side of the city in the agreement. Although as an alderman McNeely viewed a list of investors, the city has complied with a request from Hard Rock to keep it confidential and has refused to release the list publicly, denying a Rockford Register Star public records request.

“What’s the secret? Why shouldn’t they let it be known?” McNeely said. “I don’t get that. They are coming and wanting to be part of the city and they need us, the taxpayers, in order to do that.”

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