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HOFFMAN ESTATES, IL-After battling proposals, several oppositions and the threat of a lawsuit, the $62 million Sears Centre was given the final green light earlier this week and officially broke ground on Thursday. Nearly 125 industry and community members were in attendance to support the center, which is being developed by Minneapolis-based Ryan Cos. US Inc. and Sears, in conjunction with the Village of Hoffman Estates.

The groundbreaking comes just days after the Village arranged to up the bond issuance from $50 million to $55 million to finance construction, and Ryan Cos. agreed to secure repayment for four years instead of the originally agreed-upon one year, providing further protection for the Village. Now that the road is clear, representatives of the Sear Centre are expecting to draw its first crowd in the fall.

Located at Prairie Stone Parkway and Columbine Boulevard in the Prairie Stone Business Park along the Northwest Tollway, the 11,000-seat Sears Centre will host more than 135 events each year, and is expected to attract more than 750,000 visitors annually. It is anticipated to generate $1 million annually for Hoffman Estates.

The fall season will include the debut of the United Hockey League in Hoffman Estates, and negotiations are underway with the National Lacrosse League to bring a major league franchise here. There have also been discussions with the United Indoor Football League for its spring and summer 2007 seasons.

Already spurring interest from large-format retailers, Sydney, NE-based outdoor retailer and catalog operation Cabela’s Inc. is said to be negotiating a lease for one of its mega stores on the Sears campus.

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