Lakewood Explains SportsPlex

Independence Hall

You will remember that details about the McHenry County SportsPlex have been dribbling out a little bit at a time. Some residents have been upset enough to distribute a broadside, which I publishes here. (We found it after coming back from a visit to Independence Hall in Philadelphia and Thomas Jefferson’s plantation of Monticello. What appropriate timing.)

This sign says, "NO! Lakewood Sportsplex on Pleasant Valley," was found on the way home from Woodstock. Originally, the SportsPlex was planned to be directly south of the intersection of the north leg of Route 176 and Route 47. Now it is one road to the west.

I noticed that signs have been prepared as well, but I have only seen this one on Route 47.

As one who has watched public police roll-outs for decades, it seems to me the village should have been done two newsletters ago.

So far, no mention of the SportsPlex has been made in any official publication to residents/taxpayers. Really strange.

I’ll be reading this explanation of the Village official’s viewpoint as I am posting it this Monday morning.

Before I start, I can tell you I want to know who has how much money invested in the SportsPlex and ownership interest in this project, if any of my money as a Lakewood property owner is at risk.  [I’ve now read the part where the financing for the golf course that cost residents $500 a year for the better part of a decade is said to be nothing like that of the SportsPlex.]

The county board didn’t care to make that public, if anyone knows, even though the Federal stimulus package is involved.

I do not want Lakewood to end up owning a huge building, if the promoters are unsuccessful, so if that is part of the backup plan, something like a demolition bond ought to be included.

First is a cover letter from Village President Erin Smith, who now has enough allies on the board to do anything she can convince them of.

July 14, 2010

Dear Residents:

Erin Smith

During the past several months, there has been some discussion about a sports complex within the vicinity of Illinois Routes 47 and 176.

This includes land that was recently annexed into our community. While no formal proposal has yet been submitted, the Board of Trustees and I believe it is now appropriate to address some of the most frequently asked questions we’ve heard.

I have enclosed a document that provides a summary of the most frequently asked questions. As new questions are received, we will update this document and post an updated version on our Village website at:

We anticipate that the sports complex will be considered at our meeting on July 27, beginning at 6:00 p.m. [no location indicated, but the golf course club house where regular meetings are held, it seems to me, is way too small], and I urge residents to attend the meeting and learn more about this proposal. As always, I encourage you to contact me directly at or (815) 356-8005 with any questions or concerns regarding this matter.


Erin Smith, President
Village of Lakewood

Lakewood Sports Complex Frequently Asked Questions

Updated Last on July 9, 2010

This is a drawing of what motorists on Route 47 were going to see if the SportsPlex had been built on the Swanson farm.

1. What is the sports complex and where will it be located?

While no formal submittal has yet been made, we believe that the sports complex will include about 160 acres of land that consists primarily of outdoor sports fields for baseball, softball, and soccer. There will also be an indoor facility of approximately 125,000 to 150,000 square feet. It will include basketball and volleyball courts as well as a restaurant and retail space.

There is also a five (5) acre outlot that is proposed to be developed as a gas station/retail complex.

The exact location of the complex has not been finalized, but it will likely be located on the west side of Route 47, south of the northwest leg of Route 176. The gas station and retail complex will likely be closest to Route 47, with sports fields extending west along Pleasant Valley Road. More information regarding the land and location of buildings and fields will not be available until we see the first formal proposal for a planned unit development (PUD).

2. Will my taxes be raised if the sports complex fails?

It is essential for our residents to understand that the Village of Lakewood will have no responsibility or liability for payments if the sports complex fails.

While references are being made to the Sears Centre or Libertyville Sports Complex, these comparisons are not relevant.

In both of these instances, the facilities were financed using General Obligation or Alternate Revenue Bonds, which require that property taxes are pledged as a revenue source if the enterprise revenues do not cover the debt payment.

This financing model has never been considered for the proposed sports complex in our community. The sports complex financing is entirely private.

3. Is it possible that our taxes will be raised as they were to pay for RedTail Golf Course?

In order to maintain open space and support property values throughout the community, the Village of Lakewood made a decision to purchase and operate RedTail Golf Course using Alternate Revenue Bonds. As the owner, the community is ultimately responsible for the payment of debt if the operating profit cannot cover this obligation. The final payment for RedTail Golf Course will be made in 2011. As stated earlier, the Village of Lakewood will not own, operate, or be responsible for any payment relative to the proposed sports complex.

4. Will there be any economic incentives for the developer?

As all of our residents know, residential and commercial development is at a virtual standstill throughout our country, and it requires creativity and partnerships in order for projects to move forward.

As is often the case when communities are negotiating with commercial developers, we are discussing both a waiver of certain fees we would normally charge for development and a formula for sharing revenues produced by the development.

These are revenues that would otherwise not be available for our community, including:

  • sales taxes,
  • parking fees,
  • entertainment taxes, etc.

We are also willing to partner with the developer to seek grant funding for infrastructure or unique environmental aspects of the project.

No cash contribution from the Village of Lakewood is being considered.

5. Are there any other risks to the Village of Lakewood related to this project?

The Village Staff has and will continue to invest a significant amount of time and resources to supporting the development phase of this project. There is certainly an opportunity cost associated with this time investment, as residents may find that there are days when there is a delay in responding to non-urgent resident requests. We believe that this time investment is worthwhile in the end, as commercial development at this major intersection is essential to maintaining essential services and public infrastructure without a future increase in property taxes.

A second risk is that the project will fail, leaving a vacant building and land behind. This is land that could easily be redeveloped by another land owner in the future. We believe this is an unlikely scenario, as the business plan for the sports complex has been vetted by several independent consultants and financial institutions, including Stern Brothers.

6. Did McHenry County contribute $15 million in financing to this project?

McHenry County received $27.5 million in federal bonding authority for private projects under the $789 billion American Reinvestment and Recovery Act.

The bonds are meant to encourage lending for shove-ready projects by giving investors a 45 percent refund of the federal taxes payable on them.

The McHenry County Board chose to dedicate $18 million of its allocation for this project.

Private investors will choose of their own volition to purchase these bonds, and McHenry County will have no obligation or responsibility for repayment.

7. Has there been an investment of foreign funds into this project?

Another funding source will come from a federal financing program called employment based fifth preference, or EB-5.

The program, created in 1990, offers permanent resident status to foreign investors who fund businesses that create or save jobs.

It is simply a unique investment tool that the developers have identified to help fund their project, and the use of EB-5 funds for this project has no bearing on the deliberations by the Village of Lakewood.

8. What benefit is there for the Village of Lakewood?

The recent annexation of about 565 acres of land was consistent with our boundary agreements with neighboring communities, our Comprehensive Plan, and our Facility Planning Area.

It brought four (4) existing businesses into our community and will help to grow and diversify our limited sales tax base.

The proposed sports complex is also consistent with these underlying documents and has the potential to significantly increase our General Fund revenues. It is also likely that ancillary projects (i.e. restaurants and retail) will develop to support the sports complex.

Finally, the proposed sports complex will be built incorporating best environmental management practices and provide a template for sustainable development within our community.

The handout we found when we returned from our East Coast vacation. Click to enlarge or on the link at the top of the article to read what it says.

Not only will it generate new sources of revenue which are essential to our long term sustainability, but it does so by creating a destination that is consistent with our vision for our community.

9. How can I learn more about the proposal?

We anticipate that the proposal will be considered at our meeting on July 27, beginning at 6:00 p.m.

10. Should I be concerned with the statements that were included on a flyer that was placed in my mailbox recently?

Since the flyer was sent anonymously, it’s not possible for us to follow up with the person(s) who have expressed these concerns. Nor is it possible to understand the basis of their misinformation.

= = = = =

Previous articles that might be of interest:

$18 Million Federal Stimulus Request for $40 Million Route 47 & 176 Lakewood Recreational Complex on County Board Finance Committee’s Agenda Tuesday

Concept Drawings of the Proposed McHenry County Sportsplex in Lakewood

May Letter Outlines $5 Million in Direct and Indirect Lakewood Financial Assistance to Sportsplex Developer Lou Tenore

So, You Want to Know More about the Lakewood SportsPlex?

Lakewood Village President Erin Smith Endorses Ken Koehler for County Board

First Electric Newspaper Finds Potential Snag in Lakewood SportsPlex

Chicagoland Foreign Investment Group Sends SportsPlex Investment Letter

Investment Bank Announces Commitment to SportsPlex, If

Thoughts on “Money in the Bank”

Lakewood SportsPlex Proposal Getting Curiouser and Curiouser

Lakewood Gains New Economic Development Tool

Lakewood Seeks to Annex 540 Acres, including Route 176 & 47 Golf Courses & SportsPlex Site

Judge Michael Caldwell Gives Lakewood Green Light to Grow to Route 176

Former Village President, Republican Activist Win Lakewood Trustee Spots

Big Zoning Doings in Lakewood Tuesday Night

Lakewood Annexes Past Route 47 Up to Route 176

Village of Lakewood Summer Newsletter, Anti-SportsPlex Flyer Arrive


Lakewood Explains SportsPlex — 2 Comments

  1. Since the developers have already stated that they have no equity in this plan, why doesn’t the Village require the developers to sign personal notes to the village covering cost of the Village’s incentatives given to them? Surely, if the developers are so sure that this won’t fail, then they should have no reason not to show their support toward the Village and gratude for the incentatives. You don’t get a loan from the banks without some form of equity. Obviously, if this does fail, there will be costs to the Village residents for the support and maintenance of the infrastructure that has been installed and possibly the demolition of the structure.

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