Another Re-Run: "Questions to MCC Board and 3rd Party Reviewer of MCC Baseball Stadium Promises"

If you attend the McHenry County College Board meeting tonight at 6 PM or read a story about it, see how many of the questions that I asked to be answered and handed to the Economics Research Associates folks get answered.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Questions to MCC Board and 3rd Party Reviewer of MCC Baseball Stadium Promises

Since the McHenry County College Board minutes bear little if any relationship to what I say to the board, here’s what I passed out and summarized at Thursday night’s meeting.

More time was spent discussing minutes, by the way, than was spent discussing the baseball stadium and other desired additions to the MCC campus.

Besides the following, I passed out a copy of this article with Steve Stanek’s questions. Here’s are the questions I passed out.

Some Questions Cal Skinner Would like Economic Research Associates to Answer

I’d certainly like to see the costs and benefits–financial ones, not ethereal “quality of life” benefits–quantified and specified for the educational component of the project and the entertainment side. I’d like to know if my rough calculations showing that the construction cost to be 38.5% of the total for the baseball stadium, while its revenues are only 36% are correct or not. In other words, will the taxpayers be subsidizing the baseball stadium or vice versa. What are the estimated numbers?

I’d like to know if the extra cost of the taxable bonds for the baseball stadium (because it is a for-profit addition) has been added to the stadium side of the cost-benefit study.

I’d like to know if cost of paying interest on interest because of the predicted delayed payback of significant money from the baseball stadium is included on the stadium side of the ledger.

I’d like to know if the opportunity cost of the use of the acreage that cannot be used for educational purposes has been calculated and added to the stadium side of the cost estimate. The estimated value, according to MCC Board President George Lowe was $300,000 per acre, unless I misinterpreted what he said.

I’d like to know if the risk that tuition will have to rise or other expenses cut or a request made for a tax hike to bail out the project can be quantified and, if so, what that risk is and the estimate amount tuition would have to be increased at various levels of shortfall in stadium revenue.

I’d like to know if attendance figures have been cut because of the announced privately- financed minor league baseball stadium in Harvard (seen above with windmills).

I’d like a quantification of the risk to baseball team investors compared to the risk to MCC and its taxpayers/employees/students.

In addition, I distributed the following, sent in by a friend of the blog who prefers to remain anonymous:

“ERA wants to know what we want them to do in their 3d party review.” When I read that, I wondered “about what?” How can ERA do any more at this point in time unless the feasibility study is revised. Otherwise they are just reviewing the same information all over again. Are they asking if MCC wants them to change their report? Does MCC have a revised feasibility study for Plan B already put together for ERA to review? Get your FOIA forms ready Ladies and Gentlemen. If three or four people can generate 150 FOIA’s in a couple months, think how many FOIA’s five or six of us can generate. Or ten of us –just imagine.

Here are some things that jump out at me just in the ERA Review. I haven’t begun to crack the actual studies:

ERA clearly notes that MCC needs to verify expenses, attendance, capacity for non-team events, health-wellness center attendance projections, financing, parking conflicts, and much more. How can ERA then state that it’s a good business plan after noting that there is so much information missing?

How can birthday parties account for $70k in revenues?

How can $2.5 – $3 ml in start-up costs not be included in the financial summary?

Note that the capture rate would be the most aggressive rate of all Frontier League teams. How realistic and what is this based on?

This one really is great. ERA: “It is not traditional to attempt to lock in the team to a definite term. Typically teams are able to leverage their position and move at will.” This is a reference to the 20-year team in the license/lease hybrid agreement. Would this lock in be enforceable if they decided to just move? MCC could sue on basis of the agreement. And get what? And how useful would it be to keep them if they are losing money anyway? We’ve known all along they can walk when they want to.

What is supposed to be on page 12?

Interesting note about the restaurant. This is the first I have heard about one being included. Is a restaurant included? Note all the restaurants listed in the comps on page 13.

And finally, the notation “will be amended” on the pages by hand. I know why it’s there because it is part of the agreement to release it. It is so we all realize that it is a flawed report, please don’t take it seriously, it will be fixed. I can’t wait to see the fixed report. I’ll start getting my FOIA ready.

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