Hard Rock Breaks Ground on New Casino in Rockford

On Wednesday, Sept. 28, the groundbreaking ceremony for the new Hard Rock Rockford Casino and Hotel took place in Illinois. After a year of operating a temporary Rockford Casino, this marks the start of the construction of a permanent casino.

In an interview with 13 WREX, Hard Rock Casino Rockford President Geno Iafrate explained that the permanent casino is a “$300-plus million project” that had been in the works for months leading up to the groundbreaking ceremony. He also said that he hopes the project is finished by the winter of 2023. Iafrate said that the location will be built in two phases.

“[With] the inflationary impacts that…everyone is dealing with right now make finance the hotel in phase one a virtual impossibility,” Iafrate said.

Phase one will see the 180,000-square-foot casino open, and a later phase two will add a 250-room hotel to the property. When the casino opens it will be filled with table games, slots, multiple restaurants, and a live venue.

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Community Impact of the Hard Rock Casino

Rockford Mayor Tom McNamara supports the 2,000 estimated construction jobs that will employ locals during the development. He also stated in an interview with 13 WREX that there will be around 600 to 800 permanent roles at the casino.

“[Many of these jobs] will pay around $50,000 a year,” McNamara said. “Just last week Hard Rock approved a more than $3 increase in the minimum wage, voluntarily for all of their non-tipped employees. It shows that they’re not only a wonderful community partner, they’re really working to be one of the best employers in town.” 

The president of Rockford Area Convention & Visitors Bureauan independent business supporting tourism in Rockford, John Groh said that he estimates “hundreds of thousands of people coming into the area every year, just because of the casino.”

Not only will it boost employment and tourism, a portion of the revenue from the existing temporary casino and the future permanent casino will go to the Northern Illinois University Rockford Promise Scholarship. The scholarship program is dedicated to offering free college tuition to public school students. 

AP Photo/Wayne Parry

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Stephanie Wood

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Stephanie is a New York-based writer. Following her graduation from the University of Colorado with a degree in Business Administration, she worked at The Wall Street Journal. She also holds her MFA in Creative Writing from Arcadia University. She has written for Augusta Free Press, Toronto Sports Media, CU Independent, and several other publications. When she's not writing, you can find her rooting for the Colorado Avalanche, taking care of her plants, and fostering dogs.