SPRINGFIELD ? Local legislators want to fast track a bill that aims to help Rockford capture more sports tourism.
State Sen. Steve Stadelman, D-Rockford, filed his first bill, SB 1859, on Friday with Sen. Dave Syverson, R-Rockford, as the chief co-sponsor. The bill, like its predecessor that stalled in the General Assembly, would allow Winnebago County to pursue higher hotel taxes to pay for a $43 million expansion of sports facilities in Rockford and Loves Park.
The bill stalled last year and again in January after a spat between union leaders and the Rockford Park District.
"Steve and I are meeting with the labor groups to talk about any concerns they have," Syverson said. "When you sit down and talk, you realize the concerns and differences aren't that far apart."
Syverson said the bill needs to be put on the fast track so that the Rockford Park District doesn't lose a construction season, which will drive up costs.
"It's not just a construction season: Its one season delayed in implementing it, which allows our competition to land some of these tournaments," Syverson said. Those tournaments "are tough to get back once we lose them. We have to get this done soon."
The city of Rockford has secured funds to transform the former Ingersoll building in downtown Rockford into an indoor sports complex. Revenue from higher hotel taxes would help finance an upgrade and expansion of Sportscore Two and the Indoor Sports Center in Loves Park.