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Hard Rock would be the ‘best partner’ for a Rockford casino, Cheap Trick guitarist says


About 100 invited guests including Rick Nielsen’s family attended an event Tuesday announcing that Hard Rock International wants its name on a casino at the site of the former Clock Tower Resort on East State Street.

Jim Allen, chairman and CEO of Hard Rock International, made the announcement at the proposed site with Nielsen, lead guitarist of Hall-of-Fame pop rockers Cheap Trick. “This opportunity here in Rockford is important to Hard Rock,” Allen said.

Nielsen, who told those gathered that “this is a dream come true,” said a casino on the property would benefit the city. “Instead of people driving by, they will stop in.”

Nielsen presented Allen a guitar covered in Nielsen’s signature checkerboard pattern. Allen said the guitar would be featured at a Hard Rock Casino Rockford.

“We believe we can win this competition,” Allen said.

The Hard Rock proposal is the first of what the city expects will be multiple proposals involving multiple sites.

“This is not only the best location, it’s the best partner for any community,” Nielsen said. “Nobody comes close to Hard Rock. I should know: I have my guitars hanging in tons of Hard Rocks around the world and I can’t think of a better place to hang one than in Rockford, where I grew up and where I live.”

Neither Mayor Tom McNamara nor members of the City Council attended, though officials from nearby cities were there.