In a column Northwest Herald Metro Editor Kevin Beese shares his skepticism about the financial viability of having a minor league baseball team pay off two-thirds of $36 million in debt.
[This turned out to be FALSE!]
Let’s look at Beese’s analysis:
“In 2006, the average daily attendance for Frontier League teams was 2,713. With three major league teams within 90 minutes, as well as several other minor-league teams in the area, it is hard to imagine the average daily attendance being much more at MCC.”
Beese points to the Canton, Ohio, experience with the Frontier League. While MCC has signed a 20-year contract with Pete Heitman, during a 10-year period Canton had two franchises. The longest lasted 6 years. The other only one season.
“Although no one goes into a project expecting failure, there is a definite risk here. There are no guarantees. MCC officials need to explain the risks and fallback plan to the public before they turn the first shovel of dirt for a baseball stadium.”
Of course, if the worst happens, the taxpayers are stuck with the bill.
It is the second time the Herald has express skepticism.
This was the gist of a late March editorial:
One part of the equation that does have to change immediately is the college’s secrecy. Monday night’s actions to keep stadium-project personnel out of sight until a closed-door session about the stadium was held only adds to the cloak-and-dagger atmosphere in which college officials seem to revel.
College leaders need to be open and forthcoming with information about this project from the start.
From Tim Stratton, former MCC board member, who offered financial advice to MCC prior to leaving his investment house at the end of May, McHenry County Blog learned that the college should not to expect “any significant revenue from the project” for the first five years!
But McHenry County College will not reveal the cash flow its officials—one who is even a Certified Public Accountant—believe will retire the proposed debt. (Ever heard of a CPA who refused to provide detailed back-up when requested?)
How the college will repay the money it plans to borrow without asking voter approval is a tightly-held secret.
I have asked multiple times for documents that would support the MCC’s contention that a minor league baseball team will throw off enough money to pay back the debt into which McHenry County taxpayers will soon be plunged.
Every time college officials have said it is none of my business.
The first time, March 19th, the letter turning down my request for information contended the following parts of the Freedom of Information Act allowed a denial:
Preliminary drafts, notes, recommendations, memoranda and other records in which opinions are expressed, or policies or actions are formulated…
Trade secrets and commercial or financial information obtained from a person or business where the trade secrets or information are proprietary, privileged or confidential, or where disclosure of the trade secrets or information may cause competitive harm…
I had asked for the feasibility report from Mark Houser’s Equity One Development Company. Houser not only got that $70,000 no-bid contract, but the MCC board has awarded him a $400,000 contract for oversight and coordination. (Not construction management; FCL Builders Inc. got that no-bid contract.)
I suggested that Houser’s recommendations might be tainted at a college board meeting, but the board members sat mute.
June 13th I received another “kiss-off” letter.
June 17th another “you-don’t-need-to-know” reply arrived. This time in reply to a request for what documents MCC Trustees Scott Summers and Mary Miller, CPA.