30 September 2022
United States
Rockford Register Star

Construction begins on Hard Rock casino resort in Rockford, Illinois

(Illinois).- Three years after Rockford chose the Hard Rock from among three viable casino proposals, Hard Rock Casino Rockford threw an invitation-only party to celebrate the start of transforming a 25-acre empty field into a more than $310 million resort.

It is a moment decades in the making: A casino that will mean millions in local revenue, breathe new life into the city's East State Street corridor and create more than a thousand jobs is finally being built.

"I have called Rockford my home for my entire life, and I'm so thrilled to see Hard Rock install a little piece of rock 'n roll in my backyard," said Rick Nielsen of the legendary rock band Cheap Trick.

Hard Rock Casino Rockford officials were joined by representatives of Hard Rock International, local governments and Rockford legend Rick Nielsen of Cheap Trick to celebrate the ground breaking. Building the resort is expected to require 1,200 union construction workers. It is hoped the project will be built by winter 2023. The Hard Rock Casino Rockford resort is expected to include:

A 65,000-square-foot casino with about 1,500 slot machines, a sports book and about 60 table games featuring blackjack, roulette and craps among others. It may also include a poker room of 10-12 tables.

Plenty of food options with a Hard Rock Café, Council Oak Steakhouse, YouYu authentic Asian cuisine restaurant and a food hall with a common seating area and up to five counter-service options.

A Hard Rock Live event center that can serve as a 23,500-square-foot conference center or a roughly 1,600-seat live concert venue.

And a 250-room hotel in a second phase of construction. Under provisions of a host community agreement, once Hard Rock opens, it will provide the city of Rockford with a guaranteed $7 million a year. It will also pay the city impact fees of an additional 1% annually of its adjusted gross receipts for the first two years of operations. Hard Rock will pay the city 0.5% of adjusted gross receipts annually for each ensuing year. Hard Rock has also agreed to provide an additional $150,000 annually to support economic development in at-risk or impoverished areas of the city. And it will establish an 815 Hard Rock philanthropic foundation.

State Sen. Dave Syverson, R-Cherry Valley, said this is a moment he fought two decades to achieve. Syverson said he worked with other Legislators and communities to build support for a casino expansion despite opposition from existing casinos and their lobbyists. "In the end, the wait was worth it," Syverson said. "To get the Hard Rock brand is more than I had hoped for when I first started this dream."

By Jeff Kolkey