McHenry County SportsPlex Analysis – Part 1 – Demographics

Former Illinois Bell and Ameritech Director of Corporate Planning Joseph L. Daleiden, who also served as Economic Advisor to the Executive Office of the White House, Office of Management and the Budget during the Carter Administration, prepared a report about the viability of Lakewood’s proposed SportsPlex as presented in an application to the Upper Illinois River Valley Development Authority. It will run in three parts.

In his cover message, Daleiden, wrote,

“…my critique of the proposed Lakewood Sportsplex based on their feasibility study submitted to the Upper Illinois River Valley Development Authority (UIRVDA) .

“As you can see the proposal was, if not a scam, an amateurish, ill-conceived plan filled with errors, unverified assumptions and seems devoid of any substantive research.

“That the request for $18 million federal stimulus money was approved by both the McHenry County Board and then UIRVDA is classic example why, as a rule, governmental bodies should not subsidize business ventures. (Some day I’ll write about my trip to Cleveland to visit a sweet potato chip entrepreneur as the Budget Bureau guy with the Small Business Administration budget. I reached the same conclusion as Mr. Daleiden mentions above. Government officials have little clue what businesses will succeed and which will fail.)

“They simply are unable to do the adequate due diligence that a bank or other financial lenders can do (at least theoretically) on a request for a loan or the issuance of bonds.”

Critique of the Crystal Lake Youth Sports Complex Feasibility Analysis submitted to the Upper Illinois River Valley Development Authority

Part 1 –  Demographics

1. Sportsplex estimates are miscalculated and misleading

McHenry County Board audience members who opposed the granting of Federal Stimulus bonding authoity to the SportsPlex were asked to raise their hands before the vote. Click to enlarge.

Page 2 of the report estimates “the total youth population of McHenry County between ages of four and 18 is 98,217” and that roughly 50% are involved in at least one sport.  However, on page 3 it states McHenry County has “45,217 youth aged children of which 22,133 are involved in athletics in McHenry County”  Is this obvious contradiction representative of sloppy analysis?

The report then refers to the “second layer of population to use the facility is men and woman between ages of 25-45” (for some reason ignoring those between 19 and 25) as 192,468, They go on to state, “This population group as evidenced by US census information has 36%  regular competitive athletics each week. This allows for another 55,000 who will use this facility.”

This statement certainly does not reflect census data and is 50% overstated. The correct census data calculated from The US Census Bureau 2005-2009 American Community Survey 5 – Year Estimates for Illinois  (S0101)  – including the 19-25 age group – is 132,207, still about 60,000 less than the Sportsplex estimate.

Signs opposed to the SportsPlex are throughout the neighborhood.

Even worse, these estimates are completely misleading for the following reasons:

  1. McHenry County as a whole is not the relevant market. On page 15 the report states that “leagues are targeted primarily towards a constituency within a 20 miles areas with the majority coming from the local (ten miles) population.”  Moreover, the 20 mile circle would significantly overlap with the Elgin sports complex (which is already losing money despite a far denser population area.
  2. The palm card for former McHenry County Board member John Jung is hanging on the mailbox of a neighbor of the SportsPlex. Jung made a comeback, running first. He defeated Lake in the Hills Democrat James Kennedy and ran ahead of his running mate Tina Hill of Woodstock. Both voted to approve the SportsPlex bonds.

    The report assumes that all persons involved in sports are part of the market, whereas the census estimates of the percent of persons involved in sports includes all sports including track and field, football, swimming, hockey, tennis, golf, bowling, weightlifting, wrestling, bicycling, even simply walking for exercise and fishing. The proper estimates of potential persons in the Sportsplex would include only those persons involved in sports offered by the Sportsplex as calculated below.

  3. The vast majority of school-aged athletes use the facilities supplied by schools and  park districts. The same is true of adults who have access to park district softball and soccer fields throughout McHenry County. Why would people travel substantial distances and pay high fees to participate in sports with low cost public facilities nearby?

2. A more realistic estimate of the relevant market would be calculated as follows:

  1. Total population in McHenry County within ten miles of facility              160,000
    (To this could be added some portion of population within
    20 miles taking into consideration the large overlap with the
    Elgin sports facility but should exclude the number of seniors
    in Sun City)
  2. Percent of population in the 10 to 19 age group
    (including ages 4-9 is absurd)                                                               27%
  3. Total of 10-19 age group    (1 x 2)                                                                 43,200
  4. The Census Bureau’s estimates that over 90% of children are involved
    in some sport. But the number involved in baseball, softball
    and soccer is about 40%                                                                         40%
  5. Total age 10 to 19  (3 x 4)                                                                                17,200
  6. Percent of population  in 20-40 age group                                               36.5%
  7. Number in 20-40 age group   (1 x 6)                                                           58,400
  8. Percent in 20-40 age group playing baseball, softball or soccer                                       6%
  9. Total 20- 40 age group playing baseball, softball and soccer (7 x 8)                3,500
  10. Total market  (5 + 9)                                                                                       20,700
  11. Per cent that have access to school or park facilities during                      90 -100% ? Percent that are willing to pay $1500 to $3000 per year to use                         NA
  12. Percent that are willing to pay $1500 to $3000 per year to use facilities instead of existing school and park facilities
    for far less cost                                                                                                                NA

Conclusion: even if we included some portion of those living in the 10-20 mile radius, the maximum size of the market for the relevant sports is perhaps 30,000 children and adults, virtually all of which have access to school and local Park District facilities, including dozens of soccer and baseball fields which are at present under utilized. Although in winter an indoor park offers a unique advantage, it is severely limited by the number of games that can be played on one field.

= = = = =

Parts 2 Saturday and Part 3 Sunday.


McHenry County SportsPlex Analysis – Part 1 – Demographics — 5 Comments

  1. If this is all accurate, I’m glad it is short and to the point as opposed to being subtle and overly tactful about the quality of the information that was reviewed.

  2. You expected the trustees from Lakewood who voted for this to care that this spend-money-with-much-hoopla venture is viable?

    Lakewood you-can’t-trust trustees wanted a golf course which is a money sink hole.

    Big money will be made in consulting and marketing fees by quite a few people before it ever opens. Money is skimmed off before these facilities ever open.

  3. Just know that in Mchenry County if the powers that be want it you can’t stop it from happening. And when it comes time to vote for these people; the people of Mchenry WILL vote them back into office.

  4. For someone to say that there is not data that supports the fact that sports complexes make money, are not looking at the right sports complexes.

    If a sports complex is designed and built right, then it will draw from 100 mile radius with all of the travel and tournament play that is occurring in the US today.

    It has to have the right people promoting the facility and built with the right ideas in mind from a professional point of view.

    I am not so sure about the statement “why would kids or adults leave a school facility to play at a private facility”.

    It is true, that the school programs are usually less expensive to play, but you have a lot of high profile travel teams, clubs, etc that would be drawn to the right setting and it would generate a boost to both the economy and city.

    I think I would get a 3rd, independent sports consultant to review the situation before killing it.

  5. Steve-where have YOU been over the last six months.

    It HAS been proven with FACTS that the MAJORITY of sportplexes across the country are losing money.

    And even if they were, then why aren’t those facts in the analysis to prove their point-they’re not.

    It is also a fact that since there are sportsplexes already within “100 mile radius” , another sportsplex would only take away business from already existing ones-so a break even situation overall.

    It is also a fact that the analysis was done by a man indicted in WI for fraud!

    Lakewood NEVER got an analysis-that’s the problem- this analysis was done by a very experienced independent analyst concerned over the feasibility of such a project.

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