Hard Rock Wins First Round in Illinois

Rockford, Illinois aldermen have certified Hard Rock International's proposal to build a casino at the city’s Clock Tower Resort (l.). Gorman & Company and Forest City Partners also had submitted proposals. Hard Rock's $300 million development will create at least 1,000 jobs, officials said. Next, the Illinois Gaming Board will have one year to approve Hard Rock's Rockford gaming license application.

Hard Rock Wins First Round in Illinois

In Rockford, Illinois, city aldermen have voted 11-1 to certify Hard Rock International’s casino proposal and forward it to the Illinois Gaming Board by the October 25 deadline.

Mayor Tom McNamara said, “A $300-plus million development, 2,000-plus jobs and an international brand makes all that work worthwhile.” He said Hard Rock’s proposal offered the best employment opportunities and economic growth, including supporting local businesses and minority, women, people with disabilities and veteran business enterprises.

“I am so happy we can finish saying ‘former Clock Tower site’ and just say the new Hard Rock Site,” McNamara said, noting the Hard Rock development would be built at the site of former Clock Tower Resort on East State. Gorman & Company submitted a proposal for a casino in downtown and Forest City Partners proposed a casino off of I-90 and Spring Creek Road.

Hard Rock’s agreement with Rockford includes temporary and permanent payments to mitigate community impacts from construction. Temporary payments will total 15 percent of net income but no less than $1.82 million during the first 12 months of operation and 5 percent but no less than $1.07 million during each subsequent 12 months. Permanent casino payments will equal 1 percent of adjusted receipts during the first 24 months of operation and 0.5 percent of adjusted receipts during each subsequent 12 months.

In addition, Hard Rock will employ 800 to 1,000 people and will provide shuttle services for them from various locations throughout the Rockford area to the casino.

The planned development would include a casino with 1,500 slot machines and 55 table game seats, a Hard Rock Café and other restaurants, and a 1,600-seat live entertainment venue. Phase II would include a hotel. Officials said within 90 days of obtaining a license, Hard Rock would open a temporary casino location with more than 730 slot machines at Giovanni’s Restaurant & Convention Center on Bell School Road until the permanent location is constructed.

Lead investor Dan Fischer said, “We started this journey six years ago, recognizing that Rockford and the Clock Tower site was an ideal location. Our goal with the Hard Rock Casino Rockford is to build a new history at this iconic site and make it once again a destination.” Fischer added that a market study showed every day about 64,000 cars would pass by the venue, which could generate $282 million a year for the local economy.

Hard Rock Chief Operating Officer Jon Lucas said, “We’re eager to turn everyone’s support into jobs and tax revenues for the city of Rockford, and obviously we want to get in and get started before some neighboring states open some casinos.”

The Illinois Gaming Board will have 12 months to review Hard Rock’s application for a gaming license in Rockford, one of five south Chicago suburbs selected to develop a casino under the state’s new gambling law passed earlier this year.