New proposal argues for casino, aquarium in downtown Rockford

Local News

ROCKFORD, Ill. (WTVO) — A group called the Rock River West Casino Group has announced plans for a casino and aquarium in downtown Rockford.

According to the group, the proposed casino would be located adjacent to the anticipated train station and Amerock Embassy Suites Hotel and Convention Center on South Main, in Rockford’s “Waterpower District.”

The “Waterpower District” extends from Kent Creek on the south to the Chicago and North Western Railroad on the north, and from Rock River on the east to South Main Street on the west

“This new Entertainment District will enrich our community while supporting the entire downtown destination,” states Stacy Bernardi, Rock River West Advocacy Group. Continuing, “We envision that this project location can definitively grow more entertainment events for the BMO Harris Bank Center, Coronado Theater and Davis Park with existing and added restaurants, existing and new retail, and new entertainment attractions in and around the South Main Corridor and the overall River District.”

“The presence of the Rockford Aquarium in the Rockford Main Street corridor along the Waterfront will be a further catalyst for downtown development andan enhancement to other museums and new entertainment tourist attractions,” states, Gayle Marzorati, Board President of the Rockford Aquarium.

“We envision a world-class Aquarium which will create a vibrant and exciting place where people can spend quality family time while learning about the oceans of the world, our river and important aquatic-related issues”, adds, Terry Reid, Board Member Advocate, for the Rockford Aquarium.

“The Aquarium together with this urban casino will play a vital role as an economic stimulus which will help the City of Rockford in its completion of the plan to develop downtown and South Main Street Corridor,” states, Victory Bell of the Rock River West Advocacy Group.

“The greatest concentration for underemployed and unemployed is on the west side, there is a willing and ready workforce within walking distance. The casino and hotel once completed is expected to employ between 600 to 1000 people, along with the Aquarium employing of 120 to 200 full and part time employees,” Bell continued.

Rockford has until next month to submit a recommendation to the Illinois Gaming Board.

If a license is approved, McNamara believes a casino could be set up at a temporary site by the end of 2019, with the full casino to be built within 2 years.

Hard Rock International has also submitted a proposal for a casino/hotel which would be built on the site of the former Clock Tower Resort, at 7801 E. State Street.

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