By: Diane Benjamin
The report provided to both Bloomington and Normal in July of 2018 should have ended the conversation on a sports complex: https://blnnews.com/2018/07/17/sports-complex-must-be-dead-on-arrival/
Why discussions have resurfaced now for an even more expensive facility – $50,000,000 -is slightly a mystery. I know a few people to blame, why anybody thinks this is a good idea is the bigger mystery. This morning I filed numerous FOIA requests, when I receive them more information should be available.
I can tell you Normal see tourism dollar signs. They did last year, they still do.
Start with the soccer fields at the airport. I did this story in April 2018 after FOIAing the FAA to get the real story. https://blnnews.com/2018/04/05/faa-cira-and-soccer/
There is no mention of the fields being “dangerous”, the FAA just wants airport related development, not kids playing. Somebody has been “misspeaking” for years. The lease currently to use the soccer fields expires in 1 1/2 years.
Next, who plays on the airport fields? 2 groups:
- Prairie City Soccer League. This a recreational League that only plays 12 games a year, 6 in the spring and 6 in the fall. Rec does not do tournaments.
- Illinois Fire Juniors. These teams do travel, they have 1 local tournament (first annual) on their website https://www.illinoisfirejuniors.com/falltournament
- Fire has held a large tournament for over a decade in the Spring
One thing that will happen if the sports complex is built: It will cost the players more to play. Without financial support to cover the cost for low income families, soccer is a sport only the “better” off will be able to afford.
The 2018 presentation called for other sports to also be at the complex: cricket, squash, volleyball, basketball, and baseball. The consultant obviously knew soccer wasn’t enough and couldn’t generate enough money to justify it. High schools already have facilities for volleyball and basketball. The Pony League isn’t going to abandon their facility, a few traveling baseball teams isn’t going to pay for a $50,000,000 complex either.
The people behind this complex think they can steal tournaments for all kinds of sports currently held in Rockford. Bloomington-Normal is centrally located with good interstate (if the state fixes them) access. There is no guarantee of that happening.
There is an alternative:
These are pictures of a soccer complex that already exists. It is located at the corner of Six Points Road and Rabbit Hill Road. It is being built privately with donations and donated time from a lot of places:
Reinhart Grounds Maintenance
Weed Man lawn Care
Country Lace Bridal
Millennium Pain Center
Wilder, Corwin, Kelly and Associates
OSF Children’s Hospital
Midwest Construction Rentals Inc
Surveyor- Bryan Hartman
Sparks Construction LLC
Wherry Machine & Welding
Dr. Kirk Norian
Illinois Prairie Electric
Friends of Millennium FC
Millennium FC volunteers
Local Union Finshers and Labors apprenticeship.
The REAL Community Fields!
The group developing these fields is Millennium FC Soccer. They currently have about 30 acres with 8 fields and a lot more acres available for more fields. They do travel and try to keep costs as low as possible for the kids and their families. They anticipate only holding 1 or 2 tournaments a year, more if their numbers grow.
They have a website: https://www.millenniumfc.com/Default.aspx?tabid=687427
Lot of pictures are available on Facebook, they are even getting lights: https://www.facebook.com/Millenniumfc/
This Saturday they are having a picnic for the soccer families. I’m sure they wouldn’t mind the public stopping by to see what they are accomplishing without a dime of taxpayer money!
So why doesn’t this complex get more publicity? See the RED print above.
This group will not play at the $50,000,000 complex, they don’t need to.
There is bad blood keeping all the local teams from working together. I do know PCCL/Fire is trying to raise money for their own complex. They have not raised enough money yet. If the complex is built, the money raised will be used to pay the much higher fees they will forced to pay. I talked this morning with a representative who has this message: Don’t want to spend $50,000,000 on a complex, donate now.
An alternative would be remove whoever is blocking the organizations ability to work together.
Millennium FC is doing what baseball did. The Pony League fields were built with private money. Which should be supported? The answer is obvious.
There are many issues left to cover. This story will continue.