ROCKFORD, Ill. (WTVO) — A major chain casino tells the City of Rockford it wants to do business here, as Hard Rock International held a media event to announce it’s plans for a Rockford casino.
“This is a process to be selected. Today is about announcing our interest,” said Jim Allen, Chairman of Hard Rock International.
Hard Rock is the first hopeful casino operator to throw their hat in the ring to build Rockford’s first casino.
Rockford’s own superstar, Rick Nielsen of Cheap Trick, is a force behind Hard Rock calling the Forest City home.
“People won’t just drive by, they’ll stop in,” Nielsen said Tuesday. “I have guitars in probably half the Hard Rocks around the world, and I’ve never had anything here. So, it’s about time.”
The casino chain wants to build at the site of the former Clock Tower Resort, at 7801 E. State Street.
Allen said the casino would create 1,200 permanent jobs and another 1,000 during construction.
The global company isn’t expected to be the only one submitting a proposal by the August 16th deadline.
“We are aware of at least eight other companies that would potentially be submitting a response to the Request for Proposal.”
Rockford’s City Administrator Todd Cagnoni said, “I think it’s important to understand we’re in the middle of a request for proposal process. We would hope and anticipate that there will be multiple proposals, so we have the opportunity to evaluate multiple operators and multiple locations.”
City officials predict all of the proposals will officially be submitted by the August deadline.
“We want to make sure that the owner and operators are qualified to operate a casino, [and] what community interests they have,” Cagnoni said.
“We just don’t want our competition to know what we’re spending yet,” Allen said. “That way, they don’t outdo us, you know?”
Cagnoni said, “After the August 16th [deadline] we’ll be working through evaluating those proposals, leading up to the public presentations, as well as the public hearing.”
The public presentations will be held in front of City Council on September 16th. The public hearing, in which residents are encouraged to chime in, is scheduled for September 23rd.