The tale of the Coliseum, Tari, & a hotel

By:  Diane Benjamin

I’ve been reading Pantagraph reports this morning from 2000-2004 pertaining to the Coliseum.  If you have a Bloomington library card, you can access ProQuest on-line and read them yourself.  Search “Sports arena downtown Bloomington”.  Unless you are signed into the library system, the Watchtower links below will not work.

Yes, there was a fight about location.  The airport manager wanted it built on their property, or close by.  Markowitz wanted it downtown, she promised it would ignite building programs and renovation in the immediate area.

Other utterances from elected officials:

Young professionals, single and married, and empty-nesters want to live downtown.

The City and District 87 will receive a substantial reward.

Markowitz claimed a handful of developers wanted to build a downtown hotel.

Markowitz 2003 on the opposition:  “I think they’re scared to death we’re going to raise taxes and that’s not true. We’ve said it all along”.

Markowitz called the arena a “NEED”.

Former City Manager Hamilton and Markowitz  said that building a community is more than basics like roads, sewer, water, police, fire and garbage pickup.

Construction cost started at $17 million and rose to $37 million

In 2001 Tari Renner (IWU political scientist) was paid to do public polling:  $2,600

The City of Bloomington paid $128,000 for a feasibility study!  The study claimed estimated revenue of $7.1 million per year with operating expenses of $4.8 million.  The net income of $2.3 million would be more than enough to cover bonds.  The City could set aside $600,000 per year for future capital expenses.  This is from a report in January of 2002.

The study was funded by the Rivermen, City of Bloomington, the airport, and the Bloomington-Normal Area Convention and Visitors Bureau.  Yes, the Rivermen were intimately involved in pushing for it.

Much of the above has also been uttered by Mayor Renner over the past couple of years.  He was on WJBC this week talking about a lot of things, but the hotel presentation Gielbelhausen is going to make next week was included.  A downtown hotel is a “NEED” to grow the local economy.  (No word on what happens to a hotel he might put out of business)  Of course, it will pay for itself and never cost citizens a cent.  Listen here:

Renner WJBC

$128,000 was spent on the Coliseum feasibility study.

Total Audited Revenue last year at the Coliseum was $2,587,395 – not $7,100,00

Total Audited Operating Expenses without depreciation were $3,264,875 – less than the predicted $4,800,000

Tari claimed his hotel study only cost $20,000.

The $128,000 study was even close to being accurate.  How accurate will a $20,000 study be?  Is any study ever accurate?

Tell Tari:

If a hotel is such a wonderful idea, it would be built without taxpayer money or City assistance. 

Since if won’t be built, it isn’t feasible no matter how many times Tari says it is.

The same fantasies Markowitz used are now being used by Renner.  The results will be the same.





24 thoughts on “The tale of the Coliseum, Tari, & a hotel

  1. Not to mention the fact that the world economy which is in utter shambles, plays a huge role here at home. Unfortunately however Renner, chitty manager Hales, and 8/9 of city council are living in fantasy land.


      1. Future “success” claimed by Renner. An adjacent hotel complex supposedly will help with booking at the Coliseum. I don’t believe that for one minute.


  2. Scene 1, Take 1: Five hundred yards out, the natives sit atop their ponies with war painted faces. They seem restless. Hoops and hollers. Some raise spears, some raise rifles. Their bows are strapped to their backs. The settlers appear terrified.
    “Circle the wagons!” shouts the wagon master.
    The wagons begin to circle. The women and children hide. The men take their positions behind their wagons ready to defend their families.
    The natives attack with war-hoops, fast ponies, the beating hoofs on ground are like thunder.
    Shots ring out and natives fall from their ponies. As they re-group in the distance, one man with a bowtie and a pair of red snap glasses hanging around his neck, one little man emerges from the circle and proclaims, “We can fix this with a downtown hotel. Then we’ll all have a place to live. We won’t take any of your land and we won’t raise taxes. We’ll all be rewarded with plenty of buffalo meat for every table!”
    The natives pause, look at each other in bewilderment and burst out laughing. The chief shouts, “What is wrong with him? He is crazy!”
    “Yes!” shouts back the wagon master. “He is crazy! We give him to you if we can be on our way,,,” (to be continued)


    1. Would that “one little man” also have a small speech impediment, a HUGE potty mouth and a rumored substance abuse problem? Just want to fully understand the main character in your wonderful little short story.


  3. It’s just the unfortunate cycle of government attempts to help. If it fails to live up to the hype, that just means we didn’t think big enough. All it needs is more money. This is precisely why government should stick to the basics. Government, at the city level especially, should be boring.


  4. The City officials do not or will not disseminate the truth. The current consultant who is vetting this hotel proposal was paid $95,000.00. There have been at least 2 other hotel feasibility studies since Renner has been in office–not counting staff time.
    The money for the hotel project may not come out of the general fund–although tax rebates affect the tax base–there will be bonds issued by the city for the public part of the “public/private” project. (As a aside, $14.5M worth of bonds were issued in 2000 for the Cultural District campus and additional $10M for the remodel of the Temple which won’t be paid off until 2035.)
    Renner made a comment on this WJBC broadcast that the projected income for the city will be $9-10M over 20 years. How much is a $500,000.00 per year return worth for a $15M investment? Would that even cover the interest on the bond? The jobs in a hotel/bars/restaurants will be part-time, mainly minimum wage positions. Where is the economic development?
    Renner was quoted in the Pantagraph as saying the excess revenue–above the $130,000.00 for police buy-back–from the 10% increase liquor license fees will be used for downtown projects. This makes me think the citizen were hoodwinked about the need tor the 1% tax increase. Issuing of bonds requires evidence of adequate cash flow.


      1. As the State of Illinois is rated #3 in the country for people leaving, Bloomington rolls on with the same destructive policies that have bankrupted IL. More taxes, more fees, more mis-management of funds, complete lack of understanding of basic needs of the citizens. Mitsubishi is done, State Farm is moving, there is little reason to move here and more reason due to the ever escalating taxes to move away. In the long run as socialist Renner runs out of other peoples’ money, the developers will suffer too as nothing is left.


  5. There is no demand in the United States for more Convention Center Space. The market is literally saturated. Now with the St Louis Rams moving to LA the City of St Louis has the very nice Edwards Jones Dome sitting vacant in very close distance to the Mississippi River, The Arch, and a few casinos. The city is now focused on bringing in Conventions. Thus the market is even more flooded.


    1. Peoria has a downtown hotel which sat vacant for 9 years and is now being remodeled. Bloomington does not have scenic venues like hills or rivers. Why would someone think Bloomington is a destination. People moved here for the schools, jobs and suburban feel for raising a family. Even those things are being lost.


      1. No worries. Renner will build a water feature with more new taxes. Everytime you pass gas, that’ll cost you a dollar. It’s that damned methane you know. Shame on you! Pay you heathen! Then he’ll light up the trees at night with cheap read and white Christmas tree lights year round, just like uppity town.


  6. Did not the some of the land the Coliseum built on owned by Jacobs/ Markowitz family? And did not the City waive many bidding requirements, as well approve the plans even though the plans were incomplete as well as shoddy design of the mechanicals>


      1. I also heard from a pretty good source that Markowitz did own the property. Additionally workers at the new arena were aware that the place opened with 100 code violations. For a good laugh, lets not forget that the original roof bid did not include any cuts for venting etc. that had to be added probably as a change order. Yeah, well part time council members that don’t know jack about the building trades have proven in the past that they don’t have any business at all in approving these projects. This crew of potted plants are even more unaware.


  7. It’s like an ECHO! I saw Tari on the news this evening with the “Giebelhausen plan” and TARI SAYS, “We see enough money being made on this that the BOND ISSUE by the city will be made back in no time” In roughly those words-DOES that sound familiar? Maybe Tari is taking night classes at the Markowitz school of Economics? Heck, let’s just build it out of ice, put some spot lights & Lasers on the roof, get an inflatable pig and book Pink Floyd!


    1. Marxists don’t understand economics. If they did, they couldn’t be Marxists. Listening to Tari pontificate on the finer points of finance and economic development is enough to stimulate a gag reflex.


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