Regional partners in an effort to build a $30 million expansion of amateur sports tourism facilities plan over the next 90 days to figure out a way to pay for it without burdening local taxpayers.
Rockford Park District Executive Director Tim Dimke said the plan to renovate an industrial building in downtown Rockford into an indoor sports hub and modernize Sportscore Two are ambitious, yet possible and would benefit the entire region.
“It sounds like a lot of money,” Dimke said during a public unveiling of the plan Wednesday night. “It is a lot of money. And that’s why we are going to be talking in the coming months to decide how we are going to pay for these kinds of facilities. These are world class, high-quality facilities. These facilities would put us back on top of the amateur sports market.”
The plan would give residents access to state-of-the-art sports complexes and parents who travel for their kids’ sports tournaments a financial break. It would also bring thousands of visitors to the region each year, inject as much as $16.5 million annually into the local economy and mean up to 250 permanent jobs.
Although operationally the facilities are expected to break even, finding a way to pay off the bonds necessary to construct the expansion is still being sought. Dimke said it is clear that increased property taxes and sales taxes already slated for public safety, roads, parks and core services wouldn’t fly with residents.
Alterntatives could include the sale of naming rights, philantropic gifts and specialized taxes like amusement taxes or increased hotel/motel taxes.