Bloomington Community College Moves Forward on Baseball Stadium

Mike Thiessen is the deal maker for Heartland Community College’s minor league baseball stadium in Normal, Illinois.

This started out as a “we investors will pay for the stadium” deal, but you can imagine what is happening with public money there.

Hey, if you don’t ask, you won’t get, right?

“We’re starting to see who has got what interest and what they are willing to bite off in terms of their financial commitment,” Thiessen told Bloomington Pantagraph reporter Randy Reinhardt.

Three leagues are bellying up the bar for this one.

Of course, there’s the only one that the McHenry County College board deemed important enough to talk to. That’s the Frontier League, for those of you with short memories.

In addition, the Northern League and American Association are interested.

At least the Heartland board is willing to listen to competing offers. MCC President Walt Packard was unwilling to do that.

And the college’s president, Jon Astroth, wants the board to decide at its May 6th meeting.

There does not allow a whole lot of public discussion.

Here’s a gem from Thiessen about using taxpayer dollars:

”Thiessen called negotiations ‘non traditional’ because the Town of Normal and Heartland have said the ownership group would have to foot the majority of the expense involved with building a stadium and fielding a team.”

Want to bet that those with a beneficial interest in the baseball team won’t be made public?

That’s a bad template from McHenry County College that I’ll bet catches hold.

While those holding a beneficial interest in land being sold to a public body must all be identified, those signing a lease with a junior college do not have to make public their investors.

They should and can be forced to by a college board, should the board have public disclosure as one of it operating tenants.

McHenry County College does not. All of the investors, except Frontier League baseball promoter Pete Heitman, remain unknown in the Crystal Lake proposal.

In other news, McHenry County College President Packard announced last month that the board would kill its baseball stadium proposal at next Thursday’s meetings. Too much public opposition.
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The elevation of a baseball stadium comes from drawings Mark Houser’s Equity One. The firm received a no-bid contract to do a feasibility study, which was severely panned by Economics Research Associates, the firm that grew out of people who designed Disneyland and went on to design the other Disney theme parks. Then, the MCC asked for a re-do. The MCC board even gave Houser the authority to pick the vendors to do the work on the stadium. That was a way to hide what vendors were getting how many tax dollars. Not a lot of baseball stadium transparency in McHenry County for the $10 million, plus interest, that Heitman and Houser wanted the taxpayers to guarantee. A Northwest Herald columnist comments on the risk to taxpayers. But, no referendum needed. MCC planned to sell debt certificates. Who’s stuck if the minor league baseball flops? The taxpayers, of course. Or the students with higher tuition. Houser is on the left, Heitman on the right.

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