Business leaders share support for Mattoon Sports Complex project | Government and politics

MATTOON — Business leaders have voiced support for the $66 million Mattoon Sports Complex project and its potential for economic development.

That support was among comments and questions from the public that were shared after a presentation on this complex at Mattoon City Council’s meeting on Tuesday night at the Burgess-Osborne Auditorium.

James Rieck, franchise owner for Express Employment Professionals in Mattoon, said he wondered how the complex might affect property taxes, but has since been pleased to hear that funding for the project is designed not to impose a burden on community residents.

“It’s for the good of the community. It’s for the development of the community,” Rieck said.

John Hansen, managing director of IRR corporate and public financehelps make a presentation on the Mattoon Sports Complex project at the Tuesday night city council meeting at the Burgess-Osborne Memorial Auditorium.


Mattoon-based Rural King has offered to donate 96 acres for the resort development near the southwest corner of Illinois Route 16 and Interstate 57. The development area would total 150 acres , with indoor and outdoor sporting elements on the 96 acres and with hotels, restaurants and shops on adjacent land owned by Rural King.

Potential developers said the complex would be owned by a planned nonprofit corporation, not the city; and that the city would not be the issuer of the $49.4 million in bonds for the project

Bonds that would be repaid over 30 years with new property tax, sales tax and other development-generated revenue, not existing revenue. Other sources of funding would include donations, $10 million; grants, $4 million; and a bank loan, $10.4 million.

Mattoon resident Brian McMichaels said he felt Rural King should fund the project itself and that the town should prioritize improving its aging roads and water infrastructure over repairing it. pursuit of a sports complex.

Community contribution

Sam Mazard, A volunteer from the community planning group Mattoon in Motion, speaks after the presentation of the Mattoon Sports Complex during the city council meeting Tuesday night at Burgess-Osborne Memorial Auditorium.


Sam Mazard, a volunteer with the community planning group Mattoon in Motion who is helping with the sports complex proposal, said community members have expressed interest in economic development that will help prevent Mattoon from being a dying town. He said the sports complex can be a positive change towards this development.

“Think about what you want and what you want to do to accomplish this mission,” Mazard said. “Think about your ‘why’ and let’s make it happen for our future and our children.”

Keith Summers of the KC Summers Auto Group said Rural King can serve as a catalyst to get complex, related development started. He said the resulting revenue, including from restaurants and shops, will help the city’s finances stop stagnating so it can improve roads and other infrastructure.

“Where will the funds (for the infrastructure) come from if there isn’t a project like this,” Mattoon Chamber of Commerce executive director Ed Dowd said.

Plans include developing a 140,000 square foot indoor facility with eight basketball courts and 16 volleyball courts, locker rooms, a family entertainment center, medical space for tenants and approximately 3,000 seats. Exterior plans call for eight baseball/softball fields, eight soccer fields, championship fields and warm-up areas, as well as a bike/walking path.

Donors expect the development to create 1,660 construction jobs and 1,152 direct and indirect permanent jobs; and attract 250,000 to 580,000 visitors annually, $23.8 million in direct spending, 59,278 additional hotel stays, and $110.5 million in overall economic impact.

Community involvement

Community members listen to the Mattoon Sports Complex presentation during the Mattoon City Council meeting Tuesday night at Burgess-Osborne Memorial Auditorium.


Those who made the presentation included representatives from The Sports Facilities Companies (SFC) of Clearwater, Florida. Gary Smallshaw, CCC Development Advisor, said young, sporty families will flock to resorts even in tough economic times.

“(A sports complex) is a reliable, recession-proof traffic engine,” Smallshaw said, adding that Mattoon would be an affordable destination for those travelers.

Smallshaw said the current trend in sports complexes is to build them as anchors for retail development in commercial areas, such as in Mattoon, rather than outside the country. Joe Fackel, development advisor at SFC, said high-income sports families like to go where they can watch their kids compete, dine, shop and spend the night all in one place.

The board plans to vote in August on a resolution of intent to indicate its support for the development and authorize further work to refine the plans.

Contact Rob Stroud at (217) 238-6861. Follow him on Twitter: @TheRobStroud

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