Lou Tenore’s SportsPlex Bid Farewell to Lakewood

A letter from Lou Tenore, developer of the McHenry County SportsPlex to the Lakewood Village Board:

To All Trustees,

Len Tenore

Part of a Developer’s process is to meet with Village employees and Village officials to see if there is interest in their development by that town.

Since you cannot meet in 3’s, it is common to meet either one to one or in 2’s to explain your project in detail to the officials.

No developer wants to identify land and begin doing due diligence that costs several hundred thousand dollars, only to find out that a Village is not interested.

There is no packet a Village employee can prepare for you that can substitute for a meeting.

At the same time, no developer would want to go in front of a board blindly already having done due diligence.

That could lead to a huge waste of resources and time.

We came to your Village several years ago amidst the worst economic crisis of our lifetime to put in a beautiful youth based sports complex.

It was meant to be a gathering place for families and active kids; not just athletes in over 20 sports, but with activities in music, art, video games, and computers.

The SportsPlex is a privately financed business and the TIF was so YOU could pay yourselves back for the sewer and water.

There is no developer that will bring sewer & water 2 1/2 miles to a site and pay for it.

The land Lakewood owns at 47 & 176 is worthless without sewer and water.

The area in now-defunct Lakewood’s Tax Increment Financing District.

If you have not seen the IDOT plans for the new intersection, it eats up a lot of that land and IDOT offers no reimbursement.

The comprehensive plan that Lakewood has was a match for our proposal.

Lakewood knew the benefits of bringing in a project like ours.

Our purchase of Crystal Woods Golf Course would make Redtail and Turnberry more viable and selling that land at 176 & 47 to us for a slight profit also helped the Village.

Our attorney had commitments based on our construction for a gas station and small strip mall, which brings revenue to the Village.

My team brought in a respected developer who handled the McCormick Place expansion and is now on the Navy Pier board and he had a commitment for 2 hotels since we are bringing in over a million visitors a year creating a significant economic impact.

Three happy guys after Lakewood approved their McHenry County SportsPlex proposal without dissent. Organizers EnRico Heirman and Lou Tenor flank Jack Porter, the man who put together the proposal presented to the Lakewood Village Board.

I have enclosed a report prepared for St Louis Park, Minnesota that they were kind enough to share with me.

Read the report and you will learn the facts about TIF’s.

You have been misadvised about TIF’s and their effects.

Some political groups talk about taxes that have gone up in TIF districts.

What they fail to tell you is that revenues did not go up.

A TIF is designed to help bring in revenue for a Village and if that does not happen then since costs always go up, so must taxes.

School districts get X amount from that 600 acres now and they would have continued to receive that amount year after year under a TIF.

There would be no shortfall.

All your board had to do is not approve any residential properties that would create students at the schools and District 200 would have been fine.

There was interest in senior housing and housing for special needs transitional housing that focuses on getting 18 year old and up special needs patients out on their own.

The school district would not have been shorted and would have inherited a nice amount of taxes in 20 years.

For those of you who were quoted as calling a TIF Corporate welfare?

Paul Serwatka’s 2014 sign hits property taxes, the Tax Increment Financing District and the SportsPlex.

Any business that has something to offer your community is going to want the support of the Village.

No investor or bank wants to proceed unless the Village also has some “skin in the game”.

If not, the bank or investor simply wants the developer to look elsewhere.

The type of TIF that you all are against is called a TIF bond, it is when a TIF is created and the town then bonds that amount ($66 million in Lakewood) and disperses the funds at that time.

Lakewood did not try to do that, it wouldn’t because it is too small and they did not want to put taxpayers at risk.

Lakewood never attempted that nor contemplated that.

They did their homework.

In today’s financing world a law was enacted in July 2014 that requires all municipal bonds to be represented by a licensed MA (Municipal Advisor) who recommends to the board which way to go.

This MA is liable and will not recommend something that would leave the Village in peril or the MA will be sued.

The document enclosed discusses a TIF district where it is a PAYGO or pay as you go TIF.

It is the only version of a TIF that eliminates risk to a municipality and is based on the performance of the developer.

Only if an increment is created does it reimburse the Village or in some cases the developer.

In Lakewood’s case the pluses were laid out, such as the benefits from us buying the golf course and your land as well as the large economic impact.

The intersection in question is one of the busiest in McHenry County and it had strategic implications as well for Lakewood.

Whether we are successful or not, sewer and water to that area was going to bring development. Studies were done by independent firms for retail, hotel and residential in this area and the need and demand is there.

The Village officials did tireless research and found out the economic impacts made in smaller areas like Westfield, Indiana and Elizabethtown, Kentucky.

They talked with Jones Lang LaSalle a Chicago based Real Estate services company that does billions in revenue after they read an article by JLL regarding the huge growth of youth sports and how “youth sports is growing exponentially with no end in sight.”

Our business model does not compete with the park district, so for those of you who say “Lippold is down the street” that makes no sense.

Lippold is a park district that is completely booked with its core groups and a theory of leaving the fields “open” a percentage of the time for public use.

The research done by Lakewood before your new President and Trustees took office was done by Catherine Peterson.

The countless hours of protecting the Village in the RDA (redevelopment agreement) was done by Shannon Andrews in 2015, who constantly pushed back.

She had us understanding that the TIF could only be used for the sewer and water and BMP’s and not as an incentive to a developer.

All of that research and time was put in so that Lakewood would make a good decision for the community.

To make it a better place.

The Village employees have nothing to gain except doing a good job.

Chicagoland SportsPlex plan.

A concept that this new regime does not understand. Catherine Peterson was a smart and talented person with a vision that was shared by the trustees for years and years.

The current regime has offered no vision except that they will cut your local taxes by 10% and save you maybe a few hundred bucks a year.

Your new regime does not believe in the comprehensive plan that is in place for the Village and until you change your comp plan to meet the vision of the new regime, it will confuse all that deal with you.

Your comp plan says one thing and your public comments directly oppose that plan.

Plus, with no permanent Village Manager now, several other key positions not filled along with all the public statements made by your group, it would be difficult for any developer to want to develop in Lakewood.

Between my team, design team, and the builder we represent hundreds of completed projects and direct contact to the Village employees and Village officials is essential.

The main building of the proposed SportsPlex.

We understand that the Village employees are professionals that understand the process.

Yet, the Village officials are making $100 a meeting and most have no knowledge of this process.

All the information you receive is put together in a packet by the Village Manager and then you only have a few days to review it before a meeting.

It cannot educate you enough, which is why in depth meetings are essential and its your responsibility to take in the best interest of the Village and its citizens.

We do wish you well in your endeavor of trying to run a small town.


Lou Tenore
The SportsPlex


Lou Tenore’s SportsPlex Bid Farewell to Lakewood — 23 Comments

  1. After previous board members lied to residents, more than 2 years ago, telling us The Sportsplex was a “DEAD ISSUE” only to find it was very much alive and lurking in the weeds – I guess, we can NOW, finally conclude that it truly is dead! Thanks to our new president and new board of trustees!

    Paul, I think it is safe to say you will not be receiving any Christmas Cards from Lou Tenore or the Chicago Sportsplex crew this year!

    Instead you’ll receive hundreds more from Lakewood residents who appreciate all you and your team have done, and continue to do, for all of us.

    Keep Making Lakewood Great Again!

  2. 3 nitwits?

    They almost got millions of taxpayer dollars to build in Lakewood without any risk on their part.

    No wonder they’re all smiles.

    I’d say the ‘nitwits’ are the ones that wanted to let it happen.

    Then again, are they nitwits or just dastardly selfish, irresponsible politicians?

    Thank you new Lakewood board for shutting this terrible thing down!

  3. Congrats Lakewood!

    You not only stopped this scam, you drove this carpetbagger bat s?)! crazy!

    Well done.

  4. Never mentioned the tumbleweeds at the Huntley Mall blowing across the empty lots.

  5. Absolutely they are nitwits. They actually believed they were doing somthing worthwhile. That makes them total nitwits.

  6. Plus the fact that you missed the play on words.

    The photo of the three and the name Tenore?

    The Three Tenors?

    Get it?

    Wow, you people are slow.

  7. I. do. not. buy. it. For one….

    – There is a huge, viable Crystal Lake sports complex less than 3 miles from the site at 47 and 176.

    – There is an excellent indoor sports complex, the McHenry Athletic Center, or MAC, that is just three miles away (Just north of McHenry County College). They are adding to it.

    – There is a sports complex down at the Huntley Talamore homes. Also viable.

    – The Route 47 Interchange is 8 miles away. That does not offer an advantage.

    – Youth sports are exploding, but I don’t see a report anywhere stating how there is a severe shortage of fields in our region. Plus…how much economic benefit does it really imply? OK, you get kids coming in from out of town. They’ll need hotel rooms. They might stop by McDonalds. They are not going to hang out in bars like in Wrigleyville, because they’re not old enough.

    – Even if the complex were built, other complexes, such as the one in Rockford, would compete for youth business. You would have similar issues to what the Sears Center encountered, when they would lose events to the Allstate Arena and others.

    – In order to have this sort of complex to succeed, you need continual usage…but you can’t use the outdoor fields for a significant part of the year (winter). Plus, you must have large population centers around that have a shortage of viable fields. To the south, you have Huntley, which already has the forementioned Talamore and Dieke park. Not the greatest, but not insufficient. To the west you have Crystal Lake, which already has the forementioned athletic complex, as well as others. To the west you have Marengo and to the north Woodstock. I don’t think their populations would properly support it.

    And most of all, you had a small village that didn’t want it. And what is the drag on this complex if it fails?

  8. You saw what happened when Turnberry failed.

    The burden fell on the taxpayers of Lakewood.

    Lou, you were the stupid one for thinking they would fall for that again.

    What part of “NO” did you not understand?

  9. Grafton?

    I think the point of the story was that it is done.



    Why are you arguing against nitwits?

    All that is left to do is to run them out of town.

  10. The three nitwits were Erin Smith, Ken Santowski, and that city mngr.

    Catherine ____?____
    and anyone else who jumped on board thinking they could benefit from this at taxpayers expense!

    And lets not forget the nitwits at D200 that signed on for this putting their own taxpayers at risk with no advantage of even getting tax dollars.

    It was an Illegal TIF.

    Thanks to Cal’s blog, Paul and slate, for walking/talking/mailers/surveys. etc. – and for exposing this.

    And to Susan Handelsman, Mark Steve Willson for more data than we knew what to do with! We are indebted to all your hard work, and knowledge.

  11. “The Three Amigos.”

    Slimy developers, pounding the flesh with local politicians hoping to hit the jackpot with taxpayer dollars!

    Paul, promise us you’ll never use tax dollars to develop business in Lakewood just because you can (and because you don’t have the guts to open a business with your own money!)

    That’s essentially what those politicians were doing!

    And the idea of putting a restaurant in the current Village Hall and having a new Village Hall built was all about Empire building and Ego boosting.

    They wanted their name on a building and they wanted to be treated special by local businesses that they helped cash in on our tax dollars!

  12. Hey Lou- I have to say this sentence is a doozy- novel use of the term “respected”;

    “My team brought in a respected developer who handled the McCormick Place expansion and is now on the Navy Pier board…

    For rational Illinois residents, there is nothing to respect about anyone who left their DNA on the McCormick Place expansion or any Navy Pier board actions.


    Go away.

  13. The newest puppet, “Little Erin Smith” aka Jason McMahon, makes for a fourth nitwit.

  14. Yeaah, Paul..
    Use Your Real Name and don’t be such a tight wad or I’m Going to start Calling You Short Hands

  15. But, Gene Furey, we do understand that you were one of the supporters of both the Sportsplex and the TIF District so you’re disdain is quite expected.

    Exactly why we sent you packing in your last bid to be a trustee!

  16. Lakewood is happy as it is(HA)?

    Being there’s a whole (well done) blog about their resident’s plight?

    Can we get more liberals here?

    Please, it’s a boring comment section.

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