NORMAL — Illinois State University is seeking $500,000 from the town of Normal to help cover the $1.2 million cost of new scoreboards, a sound system and a Main Street message center at Hancock Stadium.
Recently retired ISU President Al Bowman told the Normal City Council on Monday the stadium has had more than a $4 million annual economic impact on the local economy, and he expects the newly renovated stadium — which will debut at the first home football game in September — will “increase that amount substantially.”
“We believe over time as we market the facility we will be successful bringing more and more activities,” including tournaments, Bowman said.
He noted Normal partnered with Heartland Community College on the Corn Crib project — the town paid for the parking lot at the facility — and said Carbondale helped Southern Illinois University with a more than $20 million project to renovate the university’s football and basketball stadiums.
Bowman said the remaining cost of the scoreboard, sound system and message center project would be covered by private donations and money from the athletic facility reserve fund.
Mayor Chris Koos said the Hancock Stadium renovation project is a “significant addition to the Main Street corridor. It’s a very prominent feature … and certainly a positive economic benefit. A better facility will mean more people coming in.”
Koos said the council would consider the request and should have an answer within two to four weeks. Bowman suggested the $500,000 could be paid over two years, but the university would like it by June 30, 2014.
“Without ISU, there wouldn’t be a Normal,” Koos said. “It’s our largest employer, a significant economic driver in the community.”
Bowman said the $1.2 million project won’t move forward “until we are certain of our funding level.” Ideally, he said, that would happen in the next 60 to 90 days.
According to a 2009 economic analysis of Hancock Stadium, the facility was host to more than 60 university and community events, including Illinois Special Olympics, intercity football contests and recreational leagues.
The newly renovated stadium will feature club seats and suites. Bowman said all the club seats and suites areas have already been sold.