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Renner: Mostly Private Money For Sports Complex

Jeff Smudde
Bloomington Mayor Tari Renner asks a question during the joint sports complex meeting on July 16, 2018, at Heartland Community College in Normal.

Bloomington Mayor Tari Renner said the bulk of the money to build a new sports complex would have to come from the private sector.

Renner and the Bloomington City Council attended a joint meeting last week when a $43 million indoor-outdoor sports complex concept was unveiled. Normal officials have said only a public-private partnership would make the project feasible.

Appearing Tuesday on GLT’s Sound Ideas, Renner went a step further.

“There’s a massive gap between what we can afford, and what it is,” Renner said. “We can’t even afford Bud Light and we’re talking Dom Perignon.”

Renner said the July 16 joint meeting was valuable in part because it brought both Bloomington-Normal councils together. He also said the $47,000 Sports Facilities Advisory study did a good job laying out the potential long-term economic benefits. (Bloomington split the cost of the study with Normal and the Convention and Visitors Bureau.)

“Those don’t come anywhere near covering the expenses. So where is that money going to come from? We’re not closing this financial (gap) with naming rights. This has to be something very substantial (from the private sector),” Renner said.

Other big projects like Bloomington Public Library and O’Neil Park renovations should be higher priorities for the city, Renner said.

“Those are needs,” Renner said. “We can probably figure out a way to get by on soccer, even after we’re kicked off the fields by the airport. They’re not ideal, but we can probably get by until we can get something acceptable.”

Renner said he’d support asking voters to weigh in on a sports-complex referendum, but only after a more fleshed out proposal is presented.

GLT's full interview with Bloomington Mayor Tari Renner.

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Ryan Denham is the digital content director for WGLT.