What about the money Bloomington owes VenuWorks?

By:  Diane Benjamin

The City of Bloomington has been paying VenuWorks $4,999.98 sporadically since 2016, payments are marked loan principle.  This story says why:   https://blnnews.com/2016/10/06/so-bloomington-claims/

The short version:  VenuWorks paid John Butler (CIAM) for equipment at the Coliseum.  The City is reimbursing them for that purchase.  The total was $299,999, no interest, payments over 5 years.

The original agreement also called for VenuWorks to invest up to $450,000 in upgrades.  The City is also responsible for reimbursing whatever VenuWorks spent.

The City of Bloomington is claiming terminating the VenuWorks contract is fine and staff will be able to run it.  I haven’t heard any mention of this:  https://blnnewsdotcom.files.wordpress.com/2016/10/agreement.pdf

duer Venuworks

The agreement was signed on July 1, 2016.  That means terminating the contract now is at slightly less than 4 years.

VenuWorks is probably expecting to be paid whatever the outstanding balance is for up to $450,000 they spent plus the balance of the $299,999.  The City pays bills for VenuWorks like electricity, phones, and natural gas.  They are charged to “Due From VenuWorks”.

Ending the relationship with VenuWorks isn’t as easy as waving goodbye.  Expect a large check to be written after the Council votes next month on the agreement.  As of 4/30/19 the financial statements show this:  https://www.cityblm.org/home/showdocument?id=23337

encum 4-30-19

 Specifics aren’t available. 

If operations are ever allowed to return to normal, this facility is ripe for corruption.  Cash payments easily disappear into pockets.  The bonds to build it probably have at least 15 years left, the financial statements don’t have details.   Everyone is paying higher sales tax because “it will never cost you a dime” was a lie.  There is no easy way out of this mess.  Even if the City gave it away the bonds still need to be paid.

Never forget who inflicted taxpayers with this huge mistake:




10 thoughts on “What about the money Bloomington owes VenuWorks?

  1. Just how many additional staff will the city have to hire and at what cost? The deficit will even be larger. Maybe connect could use it as a bus station .

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Since Tari and City Hall rarely, if ever, make sound business or financial decisions in the best interest of taxpayers, this had to be politically motivated. They don’t care about these additional buyout costs. My hunch is that this is part of a larger strategy to consolidate control in the hands of government and that the COVID-19 timing offered a convenient excuse or cover fire for the decision. The Slantagraph noted that Tari is exploring some “local talent” to lead the Arena. Heaven help us. Who could that be? Seriously, folks, I’m not sure anyone, no matter how talented they are or how many connections they have, can put fannies in seats inside the Arena. On a broader note, stop and picture for a moment all the taxpayer-funded boondoggles in Bloomington-Normal. What do they have in common (besides the obvious bleeding of taxpayer money)? Virtually all of them have been disproportionately adversely impacted by COVID-19: Uptown Normal, hotels, restaurants, arenas, venues. Imagine, if instead of “investing” in large capital-intensive projects that depend upon disposable income and in-person commerce, the local government instead streamlined regulation, cut fees/taxes, and encouraged private sector investment in technology and other high-scale potential industries. Bloomington-Normal is a lot worse off then we’re being led to believe. Wonder if a certain large employer or two now realizes that with remote working you can hire talent from anywhere not just locally.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. If the local people are the people that run The Castle, you might be surprised how many successful events they may be able to book.


  3. Flex in tech just announced closing 139 employees losing their jobs go Bloomington normal my heart goes out to the employees how sad


  4. When Bloomington began its quest to build the coliseum years ago, I had recently returned from the Annual Convention of the International Association of Fairs and Expositions. One of the main speakers spoke on the topic of feasibility studies for a coliseum/convention center. He said that a 5 to 8000 seat venue must have a local population of 300,000 people to support it. He followed that up by saying that he meant “RIGHT THERE”, not nearby”! I provided City Manager, Tom Hamilton with a copy of the audio of that presentation, as well as met with Judy Markowitz to inform her. Even with that expert information at hand via the City Manager and Mayor, Bloomington built it anyway!!!


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