ISU asks Normal for money for Hancock scoreboard

2013-07-01T21:28:00Z 2013-07-03T18:38:56Z ISU asks Normal for money for Hancock scoreboardBy Mary Ann Ford | mford@pantagraph.com pantagraph.com

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.

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(46) Comments

  1. Chadwick Snow
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    Chadwick Snow - July 07, 2013 9:52 am
    Actually, they could easily make the adjustment in student fees and it wouldn't be much. ISU simply retired the bonds used to finance Redbird Arena and used the cash flow stream to finance the new bonds for Hancock Stadium. Adjustments in student fees needed to finance the completion of the project, the scoreboard and sound system would hardly be noticed. If they want to issue new bonds for the completion, now is the time to do it before the market kicks interest rates up even more.
  2. TDOG
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    TDOG - July 04, 2013 5:15 pm
    Really.. Wow. The original plan for the stadium is not even going to be finished. They were supposed to bowl part of the south end of the stadium. That is not going to be done. Also a school store was going to be put on the east side also. This is not going to be done. That was all part of phase 1. So they must have ran out of money? The bid was WAY to high for what they had done. If u are going to do it... DO it right ok. Down the road they are supposed to bowl the south end to connect to the west side. Then the west side is going to be revamped. Now u want to add a scoreboard. I say raise ticket prices a few bucks. Not have taxpayers pay for this...
  3. thoughts a million
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    thoughts a million - July 03, 2013 6:28 pm
    Illini, it appears i was mistaken. I searched for a while and couldn't find any cases of ISU funding for Uptown projects. As to your question, I'm sure ISU would have tried to provide funding, but given the state's climate, I don't think it wold have happened.
    As I'm still with you on the second part of your post regarding the scoreboard.
  4. The Real Illini Fan
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    The Real Illini Fan - July 03, 2013 1:59 pm
    Thoughts a million....While ISU may have rented some space from the Uptown area...I have yet to hear of ISU agreeing to pony up any money to pay for the actual building and infrastructure of the Uptown. Won't ISU benefit from the new Uptown? I am not sure I have heard of ISU and the town getting together on any project Uptown...maybe you have more information...please enlighten the rest of us on any ISU/ Normal projects. As for ISU asking for money for add on's...really? The scoreboard and sound system are add on's?? Those items should have been included in the beginning price...not add on. To me the biggest thing is that here we are a couple of months from opening day and now ISU is asking for money. They should have asked the town back when the plans were being drawn up...which by the way should have included a scoreboard and sound system from the beginning.
  5. thoughts a million
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    thoughts a million - July 03, 2013 12:32 pm
    Actually, I think they have. Some of those projects were jointly done. And I know ISU has office space next to, and above the CVS store in the new block.
  6. The Real Illini Fan
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    The Real Illini Fan - July 03, 2013 12:21 pm
    For the sake of argument...let's agree that Normal does receive a huge benefit from ISU..which I am sure they do/will. On that same token then... when the town of Normal decided to redo the downtown area...what do you think ISU's response would have been if the Normal town council had asked ISU to pony up some money to help offset the cost? ISU will greatly benefit from from the new Uptown area.. with all the hotels and new restaurants. This area does make it more attractive for conferences for ISU to host. Maybe the town council should ask ISU to fork over a little money for "add ons" the town that has come up recently.
  7. thoughts a million
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    thoughts a million - July 03, 2013 9:22 am
    You mean the bill that has NOT passed yet? I stand by my original statement.
  8. parrot
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    parrot - July 03, 2013 7:42 am
    I don't know what reform you are talking about. If you mean the Cullerton bill, it's the least damaging, but current retirees will have losses. Read it carefully.
  9. 12for10cents
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    12for10cents - July 03, 2013 7:01 am
    Based on screename obviously you are biased. Its a stadium for you that you want to enjoy, just not pay for.
  10. 12for10cents
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    12for10cents - July 03, 2013 6:57 am
    What a colassal waste of funds. If ISU wants it, let ISU pay for it. At price listed, what is that like $1k per fan per game for 30 years? Its small time, small town football not Notre Dame.
  11. catlbyer16
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    catlbyer16 - July 03, 2013 6:42 am
    Pig poop is pig poop. Your comment, " Current retirees get off without any losses.", makes these people sound like crooks and they got away with something. It is your political buddies that screwed the system!
  12. aces
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    aces - July 03, 2013 4:47 am
    Throwing more money away. ISU should not even have a football program, IAA, who cares??Have a few losing seasons and no one will be there to fill those club seats.
  13. ct
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    ct - July 03, 2013 2:29 am
    Actually, the pension reform supported by the administration doesn't take away from current proposed benefits, but does require slightly higher employee contributions. It hasn't gone anywhere, but is a great deal for the employees as it ensures safety.

    Current retirees get off without any losses.

    Now healthcare is a different matter, and not protected....
  14. ct
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    ct - July 03, 2013 2:26 am
    Exactly Snow, no new revenue.

    It also excludes the fact that the town could invest this money elsewhere and get a higher return on revenue or possibly more overall utilization from its citizens.

    The golf courses make a killing if revenue is the goal, well all but the ISU course.

    If this project is so lucrative, ISU should have no problem funding all of it.
    If they want the town to pay for the message board, they should give the town full rights to advertising revenue on the board.
  15. ct
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    ct - July 03, 2013 2:23 am
    Because the town has already sacrificed enough due to the tax breaks afforded this public project.

    The town can invest $500,000 into its own project that can generate revenue as well.
  16. ct
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    ct - July 03, 2013 2:21 am
    Tax dollars are used through student fees funding by state MAP grants and ISU tuition assistance provided via state funding.

    Ongoing maintenance, ISU salaries, as well as faux 'education' features and safety upgrades are also taxpayer funded.

    There is plenty of tax money bundled into the project, and it doesn't quite matter how many phases it is laundered through.
  17. ct
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    ct - July 03, 2013 2:18 am
    Supposed revenue assuming these new features generate more income than prior.

    It also assumes that the expenditure is more financially sound than spending it in other areas, say adding a new water slide and charging admission bringing in more revenue.

    And Bowmen fails to mention all the lost tax revenue due to the status of the project. A private project would have create lots of extra tax revenue on materials and increased property value.
  18. ct
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    ct - July 03, 2013 2:15 am
    Student fees are already paying for part of this, and those fees are far higher, although they don't all go to this project.
  19. parrot
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    parrot - July 02, 2013 8:02 pm
    We HAVE lost some of our retirement benefits as of yesterday. Ask any state retiree. If they don't know, they will when they check their bank statement. But...I don't owe an accounting to you. You said you were an ISU supporter. Enjoy your stadium. Hope you're also a Normal resident and get to help pay for it.

    And to The Wave....I don't have a clue about ISU auditors. Seems like a Town of Normal problem to me.
  20. Chadwick Snow
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    Chadwick Snow - July 02, 2013 7:22 pm
    There are tremendous flaws in your logic. To begin with, the football games and Special Olympics are already using Hancock Stadium as is, without the Town of Normal subsidy. I didn't say that the CornCrib is contributing more. I stated that the CornCrib brought new events and new revenue into the community which is not the case with the Hancock Stadium renovation. You go on to present a number of maybes. Perhaps you're correct and, then again, perhaps you are wrong.

    The Town of Normal was being asked to contribute to the scoreboard and sound system. The renovation was in place before that request. My perspective is that the Hancock renovation should be financed by student fees, donors, naming rights, ticket and suite sales and not by property taxpayers.
  21. thoughts a million
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    thoughts a million - July 02, 2013 7:18 pm
    Parrot, until you have ACTUALLY lost some of your retirement benefits, stop complaining.
  22. TheWave
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    TheWave - July 02, 2013 5:08 pm
    Thank goodness ISU has good auditors!
  23. parrot
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    parrot - July 02, 2013 4:30 pm
    And what, exactly, is Bowman's role in this? I thought he was retired and in poor health. Of course the Town of Normal will support this, at taxpayers' expense. Now watch them support so-called "pension reform" to strip ISU retirees of their constitutional and contractual rights. The ISU and other state retirees the Pantagraph and some commenters regularly bash are paying thousands of dollars into the businesses of this town. Of course, a wonderful stadium and scoreboard are worth more than all the old retirees.
  24. DTEGuy309
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    DTEGuy309 - July 02, 2013 3:51 pm
    And what happens if we vote NO on the funding? ISU just picks up and leaves Normal? The kids stop buying kegs from the local liquor stores??
    Remember folks, a couple of weeks ago, the council was scratching their heads over how they would build new fire stations because the existing ones are falling down and poorly located.... But by all means, ISU needs a new scoreboard. That should be priority number 1!!!
  25. redbirds5
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    redbirds5 - July 02, 2013 1:38 pm
    Between the ISU football games, the Special Olympics, B-N high school football games, and other random events that have contributed to what they said is an estimated $4 million in economic impact to the community, do you really think the Corn Crib is impacting B-N more than Hancock Stadium has or will?

    This also increases potential for new events to be added. Maybe they start looking to do concerts at the stadium, maybe when NIU's hosting contract with the IHSA Football Championship games expires in 2017, ISU can now make a legitimate bid and be a very prominent candidate with it's central location and perfect size for adequately seating teams' fans without looking empty like U of I does.

    It's not about the direct correlation between a new scoreboard/sound system and the town of Normal, it's about the direct correlation between the project in its entirety and the town of Normal.
  26. redbirds5
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    redbirds5 - July 02, 2013 1:31 pm
    The timeline given by Bowman in the article indicates this would be an addition that would be completed over the next year, not on the timeline of being ready for the start of the 2013 season.
  27. thoughts a million
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    thoughts a million - July 02, 2013 12:26 pm
    Thanks for the clarification. The request makes more sense now.
  28. Usaf1
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    Usaf1 - July 02, 2013 11:22 am
    Somebody is watching too much HGTV............project almost finished so lets change/add something. Oh sure....that's easy.......won't take long.....supplies are out in the truck.....
    Something really stinks here!
    Poor planning on somebody's part does not make it my problem.
  29. The Real Illini Fan
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    The Real Illini Fan - July 02, 2013 10:55 am
    First off... yes.. the town of Normal will benefit from the 'new' Hancock stadium. But that being said...ISU should have asked for the money way before now. Like when the plans were on the drawing board. Did ISU think they would not need a new sound system and scoreboard for the new field? MY feeling is they did but decided to wait till it was about down and then 'ask' Normal to help out. As for the Corncrib and Normal giving them money for a parking lot...that is true. But Normal gave them the money when it was still in the planning stages. It seems to me that ISU wants all parties to play nice when it benefits ISU but as in the case when Heartland and the town of Normal wanted to combine a new baseball stadium with Redbird Field...ISU said they weren't interested. My vote would be to give ISU nothing. They should have asked for the money sooner instead of waiting till the stadium was almost done.
  30. Chadwick Snow
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    Chadwick Snow - July 02, 2013 10:28 am
    I don't get this at all. I don't see the analogy to the CornCrib either. The CornCrib was built to house a new minor league franchise which, in turn, was designed to attract some level of tourism (out of town fans) and attract more events. Hancock Stadium is there now. This is a renovation and no new events will be added to attract visitors.

    It would appear to me that ISU could make better use of naming rights for the stadium and promote more visible advertising and marketing on the scoreboard and in other areas of the stadium. I do not see a direct correlation between a benefit for the Town of Normal and a new scoreboard and stadium sound system.
  31. Cole1
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    Cole1 - July 02, 2013 10:10 am
    It certainly makes sense to have the Town of Normal buy into this project. The Town benefits as well as ISU. With so many people traveling on Main Street, the renovated football stadium and message board will be seen by both local and out of town travelers. I'm sure the Town will be able to promote on the board, allowing them additional exposure for their programs and special events.
  32. ActTwo
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    ActTwo - July 02, 2013 9:49 am
    This is a no brainer...ISU has done way more than their share and Normal is benefitting greatly from the improvements. If necessary, give the city a percentage of the advertising revenue from the new scoreboard or let Normal use it to promote events.
  33. Forest Gump
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    Forest Gump - July 02, 2013 9:41 am
    How about adding $2 to the football ticket price to pay for the frills? Why should Joe taxpayer who doesn't give a D about ISU football have to pay for this?
  34. grayman95
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    grayman95 - July 02, 2013 8:44 am
    As a supporter of Special Olympics, which brings in people from all over the state, I can say I hope the town will support the stadium, and the wonderful opportunities it brings to our Town of Normal.
  35. audwill
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    audwill - July 02, 2013 8:31 am
    Let me get this straight. THOUSANDS of people go to games at the stadium. People who eat at Normal restaurants, shop in Normal stores and send their children to ISU. And people are upset about the town opting to take it to the next level? Mayor Koos said it wonderfully. This university is part of the community. And now the stadium - which is PAID FOR - is looking for an investment from the town to make it state-of-the-art, something that will help the town for decades to come. It's a no brainer.
  36. pio1980
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    pio1980 - July 02, 2013 8:04 am
    Done deal. The story was part of the process. Town of Normal tax dollars at work.
    Hmm... the renovation project is all privately financed?
  37. turtlelover
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    turtlelover - July 02, 2013 7:51 am
    I read the whole article and I still think it's ludicrous. Why would they wait until this point in the construction to ask for money from Normal? Yes the town will benefit, but by paying in half a million first, it will take quite a while before they realize that benefit - so basically, they're paying for the benefit.
    And the real questions is, does the Town of Normal really have $500,000 just sitting around that can be given here, or will it take money from something else?
  38. catlbyer16
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    catlbyer16 - July 02, 2013 7:41 am
    redbirds5, I don't live in Normal or Bloomington, but the problem I see is that your asking another taxing body to pay for this, when Bloomington will benefit just as much if not more from this, but you guys can't get to them. If you folks want this, then you pay for it, otherwise forget it.
  39. redbirds5
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    redbirds5 - July 02, 2013 12:05 am
    It seems a majority of the people commenting skipped reading the article in its entirety. The new sound system, scoreboard, and main street message center are ADDITIONS to the Hancock Stadium renovation, which was funded entirely without tax dollars or increased student fees. Why is it so ludicrous that ISU asks for a financial contribution from the very town that will benefit from a very appealing venue that is going to be Hancock Stadium? There is a very symbiotic relationship between ISU and the Bloomington-Normal community, therefore a small donation from the community seems very appropriate.
  40. Birdswin
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    Birdswin - July 01, 2013 11:28 pm
    I cannot believe the level of ignorance of these comments. The building project is $25 million - no tax dollars being used. The additional of a NEW scoreboard and message center is an add-on - not a part of the original building project. Separate. Why are they asking the Town of Normal to assist with the Scoreboard - not the building project? Based on what former Pres. Al Bowman is saying - it is because of the additional revenue the Town will receive from due to the building project.
  41. thoughts a million
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    thoughts a million - July 01, 2013 11:21 pm
    I'm an ardent support of ISU, but even this request has caught me off guard. I'm a BLM resident, so I have no say, but I do recall that the public was told donations and private funding were being used to "refurbish the East side seats" at Hancock. It's quite an impressive structure, but it's WAY more than I had envisioned.
  42. Corporations_r_the_Socialists
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    Corporations_r_the_Socialists - July 01, 2013 10:55 pm
    Actually the headline should read, "ISU asks Professors for money for Hancock." Let's follow the money trail. The Town will agree to pay it, but they will have no money to actually fund it. So they ask the State for the money. The State Agrees to pay it because of ISU's "stellar fiscal reputation" of building everything 1/2 the size it needs to be, while using the absolute lowest quality materials possible. The State is broke too, so in order to fund the payment, they skip yet another pension contribution payment into teachers retirement plans. Either way this shakes out... teachers end up funding this. Thus, Bowman should skip the middle men here and simply pass around a tithing plate to university professors to get the cash.
  43. DaCards88
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    DaCards88 - July 01, 2013 10:52 pm
    I meant $6.25 per semster
  44. DaCards88
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    DaCards88 - July 01, 2013 10:51 pm
    Why not charge a $8.25 semester fee per student for the next 4 semesters? You will get your $500k in 2 years by doing this.
  45. Michelle23
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    Michelle23 - July 01, 2013 10:15 pm
    Get the building partially built, then ask for money! What of it's no? Gonna tear it down? Weird how ISU doesn't know that if you don't have the money, ya don't build.
  46. ct
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    ct - July 01, 2013 9:59 pm
    Tell us again how all of this is being paid for with private donations??

    If this addition will be so successful, why does ISU need any money. Surely they can sell advertising and concessions to cover this wonderful new addition.
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