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B-N Leaders To Get First Look At Multisport Complex Study

Large group of soccer players and families crowd an area near a food truck at Community Fields along Ireland Grove Road in Bloomington.
Sonya Hefter
Illinois Fire Juniors
A tournament hosted at Bloomington's Community Fields along Ireland Grove Road in May attracted 160 teams to the community. Youth soccer enthusiasts say upgraded fields in a new location could attract more regional and national tournaments.

Bloomington-Normal leaders will get their first look at a study Monday night that will help decide whether it makes economic sense to invest public money in a community multisport complex.

The Bloomington and Normal councils will meet in a joint session at 5 p.m. at Heartland Community College’s Astroth Community Education Center auditorium. They’ll hear a presentation from a consultant hired to study the feasibility and economic impact of a potential multisport complex, then discuss those findings. The session is scheduled to last around 90 minutes.

Bloomington, Normal, and the Bloomington-Normal Area Convention and Visitors Bureau split the cost of the $47,000 study. The Town of Normal was the first to approve the study, in February. Bloomington’s aldermen agreed to pay for part of the study on a 5-4 vote in April.

The study is being done by Sports Facilities Advisory (SFA), based in Florida. The company conducted research and market analysis, including the identification of potential sites; a financial forecast for a five-year period; and future economic impact. An SFA executive told GLT the study’s results would not be released until Monday night. A Town of Normal spokesperson confirmed those release plans.

The study comes as developers Dave Stark and Katie Kim explore the viability of a west-side sports complex on more than 200 acres north of the Crossroads Center between White Oak and Wiley Drive.

And the Illinois Fire Juniors youth soccer organization is trying to raise $2.3 million for new, upgraded fields that will be needed when a three-year lease runs out for Community Fields along Ireland Grove Road. A multisport complex, if built, may become home for the Illinois Fire Juniors.

Supporters say a multisport complex might be able to attract national tournaments and sports tourism, similar to what Champion Fields has done. But municipal budgets are tight; both the Bloomington and Normal councils were forced to make difficult cuts last year to close deficits.

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Ryan Denham is the digital content director for WGLT.
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