NORMAL — Normal's proposed $47,000 study of a potential Twin City outdoor sports complex may include public meetings and may pave the way for a management contract for such a facility.
The Normal City Council will consider Monday a contract with Florida-based Sports Facilities Advisory to carry out a study over the next three months, including meetings to kick off the study, to consult stakeholders, for strategic planning and to deliver results.
"There will certainly be opportunities for public engagement, but we haven't really talked about whether any of those meetings will be public," said City Manager Mark Peterson. "They may be."
“That will be up to our client. We regularly participate in public meetings,” said Evan Eleff, an executive vice president at SFA. “Stakeholder meetings are typically by invitation ... but the final delivery and reports, oftentimes we’re requested to come to the market and share our findings in a public session.”
Though some projects planned by SFA are ultimately managed by its partner company, Sports Facilities Management, town officials also haven't discussed whether SFM would manage a Bloomington-Normal complex if it were built, said Peterson.
“We don’t have to get involved in every stage. We don’t only plan facilities we manage, and we don’t only manage facilities we plan,” said Eleff. "But SFM would commit to any plan produced by SFA ... and we (SFA) get to use the insight of literally dozens of real-world operations that SFM is directly tied to.”
The study is intended to determine "what type of facility is economically feasible, if any," "what is the economic impact on the community," "what operating strategies would be support such a facility" and "what public-private partnership opportunities exist," according to a memo to the council from Normal Parks and Recreation Director Doug Damery.
Normal has asked the city of Bloomington to help pay for the study but has not gotten a commitment, said Peterson. The Bloomington-Normal Convention and Visitors Bureau has agreed to pay, but no amount has been determined.
Officials hope the complex will be a viable option for economic development and to replace Community Fields, a longtime soccer complex on Central Illinois Regional Airport land that the Bloomington-Normal Airport Authority wants to vacate within five years.
The Kim Group, a Peoria real estate development firm, is shopping a proposal to build a $28 million complex on the city's west side, to be funded by city and town tax dollars, on behalf of Dave Stark, who owns land near the Rivian Automotive plant to be used for the complex.
Prairie Cities Soccer League and Illinois Fire Juniors, two local soccer groups that use Community Fields, are monitoring The Kim Group's proposal and the town's study but are planning a $1 million-plus fundraising campaign this year to find replacement fields on their own.
The council will meet at 7 p.m. Monday on the fourth floor at Uptown Station.