Flushing Out Baseball Stadium Details

First my apologies to the McHenry County College trustees who think the nursing program facilities should be the focus of stories on the college’s now perhaps $45 million future debt.

But the baseball stadium was pretty much all the Finance Committee discussed in its almost three-hour meeting.

Scheduled for one and a half hours, the committee did not adjourn until just before 9 PM, when President Scott Summers called to order the scheduled board meeting special to order.

Both Summers and Finance Committee Chairman Donna Kurtz asked tough questions about the financing of the facility of one or more of the following:

  • Mark Houser, who has been entrusted with pulling off construction of the project for a tidy $400,000 in addition to being paid $70,000 for a feasibility study that mere mortal taxpayers are not allowed to examine;
  • Joanne Malinowski of the Hutchison investment banking firm;
  • Pete Heitman, the minor league baseball promoter; and
  • Carrie Carney from a company named FCL.

I’ll try to find time to outline what happened, but since neither the Northwest nor the Daily Herald thought the meeting important enough to send a reporter, it may take some days to tell the full story.

Today, let’s concentrate on questions a citizen attending his first meeting had to ask.

His name is Barry Glasgow. He lives in Crystal Lake and said he was an investment banker. His wife told me he works for LaSalle.

In other words, he’s someone with the experience to evaluate the baseball deal.

Let me see how well I can replicate what he said.

Looking at the mission statement of the college, etched in glass on the wall, he observed,

“I don’t see anything in there about entertainment.”

He went on to ask whether the college knew the quality of the people they were dealing with.

“If they don’t have of their own money in it, they have no risk.

“We’re at risk for $45 million.”

He talked faster than I could write, but I did get this question:

”Did they give a five-year prepaid lease?

“Are they putting anything where their mouth is?

“The reality is we need a nursing system.

“It would be nice to have a baseball stadium.

“Do we have their personal guarantee?

“Is it an LLC (limited liability corporation [which it is]) and they can just walk?”

Excusing himself for using the analogy of “getting in bed with them,” Glasgow asked whether the college should be entering into such a close relationship.

He said he dealt regularly with 10-20% cost overruns and couldn’t remember any public project coming in at what local public officials predicted. He pointed specifically at the new county nursing home.

“There’s a pony in this pile of horseshit somewhere. We’ll have a nursing … program.”

Glasgow is also on the Board of Directors of Senior Services.

While there were many questions answered at the meeting, there was one that was not:

Where was the Northwest Herald?

Isn’t the financial end of this deal worthy of coverage?

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