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updated: 6/5/2013 6:24 PM

Rosemont gets help for Stephens center, seeks more

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  • Bradley Stephens

      Bradley Stephens

  • Rosemont Mayor Bradley Stephens is looking for more state money to help upgrade the Donald E. Stephens convention center.

       Rosemont Mayor Bradley Stephens is looking for more state money to help upgrade the Donald E. Stephens convention center.
    Bob Chwedyk | Staff Photographer

 
 

SPRINGFIELD -- Rosemont Mayor Bradley Stephens said he'll keep pushing to get more state financing to renovate the Donald E. Stephens Convention Center.

A massive economic development package approved by lawmakers includes a provision that would allow Rosemont to put $5 million it already gets from the state every year for operating the convention center toward the debt from renovation projects.

Stephens says that might be enough to do some small projects but not enough for a significant updating of the center. Among other things, he wants to raise ceiling heights to compete for vendors who might be inclined to pick more spacious convention centers elsewhere.

Stephens says he understands the state's financial troubles and how they might continue to affect Rosemont's efforts to win more money.

Still, he'll continue to ask lawmakers for an extra $5 million per year to help pay for the project, arguing the convention center and other Rosemont attractions raise lots of tax money.

"The return on investment has been pretty good for the state and the county and the region," Stephens said.

He said Rosemont would need $5 million more a year over 30 years to pay for the upgrades.

The legislation that lets Rosemont spend its existing money on upgrades faces final review by Gov. Pat Quinn. The proposal included projects statewide, including money for a long-controversial new airport in Peotone.

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