Weekly Newspaper Beats Heralds with Article on MCC Baseball Stadium Projections Questioned

Who would have ever thought a weekly newspaper would be providing better coverage of the McHenry County College baseball stadium proposal than the Northwest and Daily Heralds?

It’s not easy for reporter Pete Gonigam to do, but when neither of the Heralds did a story about consulting firm Economic Research Associates’ (ERA) analysis of Mark Houser’s Equity One feasibility study of his baseball stadium promoter buddy Pete Heitman, the opportunity arose. Gonigam ran with it and his article appears today in the Algonquin and the Cary-Grove Countrysides

Gonigam wrote a story last Thursday about how the project would lose money for the first five years. Today, he follows up with one on the reliability of the financial projections.

Since a representative from ERA will attend the 7 PM board meeting tonight at the Crystal Lake campus seeking input on a re-write of its really critical April 4th report, I imagine that at least one of the Heralds will do a story.

It will be interesting to see if any of the negative comment of the April analysis, which was posted on the MCC web site the same day as the heavily redacted feasibility study, will make it past the editors to the printed page.

You know how mutual funds are required to say that past performance is not a guarantee of future performance?

But, we all know that’s pretty much all there is to guide our judgment as to whether make an investment.

Gonigam decided to find out how well EquityOne’s last project performed.

Here’s what he found out about the Village of Libertyville’s $29 million Sports Complex:

”… (the) project has lost $4 million in the last five years.”


”Contrary to projections and despite layoffs and bond rescheduling, the complex has been such a money-loser that the village for two years has been trying to sell two of its three parts.”

And more:

” Several MCC trustees visited the Libertyville Sports Complex earlier this year but when asked if they had looked into its financial situation. Chairman George Lowe, Jr., replied simply, ‘No.’”

Houser said he didn’t do the projections on the failing part of the project—the Family Entertainment Center and the Golf Learning Center.

But he admitted accepted what turned out to be faulty, that is, grossly overoptimistic village staff projections and, as the story says, “took on the development.”

The story points out that the ERA critique of Houser’s feasibility study does not reserve 10% of revenues for stadium repairs and upgrades in 10-15 years.

Concerning attendance, the study observed that attendance

  • “would actually be the most aggressive of the five local Chicagoland teams”
  • its “assumed growth was implausible,” as the story put it.

The April ERA study pointed out,

“The initial 3,125 (fans) per game … is reasonable but continually increasing (attendance) … seems aggressive and would put the MCC stadium at one of the highest in the Frontier League.”

= = = = =

Mark Houser is seen in his first public appearance before the McHenry County College Board. Below and to his left is baseball promoted Pete Heitman taking a picture of me taking a picture of him at the same meeting. Heitman was identified as being with Equity One in a meeting agenda I got after filing a Freedom of Information report. McHenry County College Board President George Lowe is beneath the drawing of the baseball field. The photograph of the people lifting weights on the hardwood floor was taken from the Libertyville Sports Complex web site.

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