The Reclaiming First intiative to update Winnebago County's sports facilities and create a new one in downtown Rockford saw more movement as Senator Steve Stadelman filed his first bill -- an increase in the hotel tax to help fund upgrades at Sportscore 1 and 2 and the Indoor Sports Complex. Senate Dave Syverson is also behind the bill.
"I think it's a win-win situation. Most of the people who pay this hotel/motel tax will be from outside the area, not local residents. So this is something that will benefit local taxpayers, but they won't be paying for most of the project," said Stadelman.
The entire Reclaiming First project costs about $40 million and covers updating Sportscore 1 and 2, the Indoor Sports Complex, and transforming Rockford's old Ingersoll building into a new facility.
Updating sports facilities is part of the city's effort to rejuvunate its sports scene.
"Over a five year period we were seeing decline for a couple reasons: our facilities were aging, competition was increasing, some flooding issues at Sportscore 1. We were losing market share and about $1.5 million in spending to the community every year," said John Groh, president/CEO of Rockford Area Convention and Visitors Bureau.
Currently Winnebago County's sports sites Sportscore 1 and 2 rake in about $15 million a year, money that stays in the local economy. Officials project updated facilities and downtown site could double that.
However, Groh says they estimate it will take 3 years to make the money invested in Ingersoll and the area's complexes back.
Also, some residents have asked if visitors will visit the downtown facility once it's complete.
When asked Groh said yes and it's the quality of the facility that will draw traffic.
You can learn more about Reclaiming First here.