Reclaiming First bill passes Illinois Senate - WREX.com – Rockford’s News Leader

UPDATED: Reclaiming First bill passes Illinois Senate

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SPRINGFIELD (WREX) -

In Illinois, allowing counties to raise their own hotel/motel taxes could mean millions more dollars for the Rockford area. City leaders and state legislators think this is a sports tourism barnburner.

Rockford tourism advocates say in the last five years, this area's lost money in amateur tournaments. Other cities are making a play for Rockford's number one sports tourism title. City leaders plan to distance themselves from the competition with the Reclaiming First project. The project revamps Sportscores One and Two, plus turns the downtown Ingersoll building into an indoor complex for activities like volleyball and basketball. Despite nearly unanimous support from city leaders this initiative has two years worth of attempts behind it. It's failed in the General Assembly before. The most recent hold up comes from a spat between Rockford area union leaders and the Park District over competitive bids for labor contractors, but both sides recently came to a deal. State Senators and bill sponsors Steve Stadelman and Dave Syverson say this bill passed with flying colors Friday.

"As we're able to grow Reclaiming First and move it forward, we'll be able to have a greater economic impact because of sports tourism in our community, putting more people to work and growing our economy." -says Rockford Area Convention & Visitors Bureau President & CEO John Groh.

The plan is now off to the Illinois House for approval. Supporters are confident it'll pass and be on the Governor's desk within 30 days.

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Earlier we reported...

An effort to allow Winnebago County to impose a two percent tax on hotels has passed the Illinois Senate.

The Reclaiming First bill is backed by Senators Steve Stadelman (D-Rockford) and Dave Syverson (R-Rockford). The project will transition the former Ingersoll building into a riverside indoor sports complex. It will now go into the House for consideration.

The hotel tax increase is expected to generate $13 million for the project and most of the tax would be paid by out of town visitors.

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