Hidden Evaluation of Feasibility Study Also Released; No Evidence Baseball Stadium Will Pay Its Own Way

A 13-page evaluation of Mark Houser’s Equity One’s feasibility study of his buddy Pete Heitman’s baseball stadium projections and other expansions of McHenry County College has been released.

It’s dated April 4, 2007.

I didn’t even know it existed, but, after reading the very pessimistic summary comments, I can see why MCC officials kept it hidden.

Take a look at the Economics Research Associates’ report and send McHenry County Blog your comments.

Blogger is again giving me big trouble loading images, so let me type the summary comments:

Under “HWAC:”

“1. Our experience is that these facilities and programs usually have a difficult time generating positive cash flow and as a result are often public projects. Your upscale suburban market is probably the most feasible location to have a profitable program.” (emphasis added)

My comment: If that’s the most positive statement these consultants can come up with concerning the HWAC, there are real questions about more than the baseball stadium.

”2. There is very limited market analysis included in this (EquityOne’s) feasibility report. Information about existing competition, offerings, activity, fees, etc. would obviously help confirm the revenue projections.”

My comment: And Houser’s feasibility study was done before the possibility of a privately-financed minor league baseball park in Harvard was revealed by McHenry County Blog. If it opens, attendance would surely be cut in Crystal Lake.

Under “Minor League Baseball:”

“3. Again, most of ERA’s baseball market analysis / feasibility assignments have been for public clients since the programs generally do not generate enough revenues to cover their development and operating costs. The public sector gets involved using their borrowing power and justifies the project costs because of its economic and community benefits (i.e., quality of life, increased property values, new visitors to the area, community image, etc.)” (emphasis added)

My comment: If that’s the most positive statement these consultants can come up with, the baseball stadium should be Dead On Arrival (DOA, for those of you into acronyms).

“4. Our assessment reveals several areas where more clarification would be helpful including the need for budgeting the eventual facilities improvements and upgrades, further clarification on non-team activity and the indicated commitment from the League.” (emphasis added)

My comment: So, there are more improvements to come. I wonder if they will be as outrageously expensive as the ones down in Kane County. Bids just came in for such improvements and upgrades costing more than MCC’s initial baseball stadium will cost. There is no indication whatsoever that the Frontier League is providing any money to finance the stadium. The flow of money is in the other direction. Information I have received is that the league requires a $300,000 payment as sort of a franchise fee.

Having found no good news in the proposal except for the minor league baseball team’s being subsidized by the public, ERA adds these more positive comments:

“ERA also notes that in addition to your positive and growing market, the proposed programs have several additional potential assets:

“The combined programs maximize opportunities for financial benefits (i.e. college use, shared parking and infrastructure, possible sharing of staff, services, purchases, marketing, etc.)”

My comment: I hope MCC didn’t spend a lot of my money on this extremely vague wish fulfillment list.

“Two attractions that draw year round visitors are potential locations for a quality (revenue generating) restaurant or other development.”

My comment: There has been no proposal of a restaurant by MCC. Additionally, the best location for a restaurant is on Route 14 north of Tartan Drive. That land is not owned by MCC and there is no reason that the college would benefit financially.

“As mentioned earlier, the two programs will positively impact the local quality of life and economy and a case could be made for public support.(i.e. infrastructure, services, funding, etc.)”

My comment: Since this a duplicative evidence that the project will not pay its own way, why would a consulting firm even include it? It supports the opposition’s argument that this baseball stadium will most likely not pay its own way and have to be subsidized by the public. Consultants are usually paid to bring in the answer that the people who hire them desire.

My conclusion: This negative prognostication by consultant ERA should have led the MCC board to say “No thanks” to the baseball stadium proposal last spring.

The MCC Board meets at its Crystal Lake campus at 6 Tuesday evening.

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