Community leaders hope sales tax increase will fund new facilities

By Beau Ebenezer

August 20, 2013 Updated Aug 20, 2013 at 10:34 PM CDT

BLOOMINGTON Ill -- Dozens of Bloomington-Normal residents listened to city leaders' $32 million proposal to develop a new soccer complex in Normal and a community center in Bloomington.

"The problem is if we go back to what we were and play in different parks, those parks or green space do not exist today, said Prairie City Soccer League President, Frank Schuler. "It's either been developed or the space that is there doesn't meet statues and requirements. This is our best opportunity to continue soccer."

Currently, around 3,000 kids play soccer at Community Fields next to Central Illinois Regional Airport.

However, their lease ends in 2017.

"If we were to lose the Community Fields and not have a replacement for that, we are going to be competing with all of the other sports in town for whatever green space is available," said soccer parent, Steve Personette. "It will just be a big mess I believe."

With the new proposal, a 26-field complex would be built on Normal's west side, near Crossroads Center along with a separate Community Center at the Great Escape building in Bloomington.

Project developers said a sales tax increase could pay off project debt in eight years.

"The quarter of a percent sales tax increase allows those who are coming outside of our community to participate in the funding of that particular complex," said project proposal organizer, Dave Magers. "We'll see increased economic activity from shopping in hotels and eating at restaurants."

Organizers say according to a research study, the facilities will generate $1 million within the first year.

The proposal also suggests that the YMCA will manage the community center, with organizations like the Boys and Girls Club sharing the facility.

Developers need to get approval from the Town of Normal and City of Bloomington before they will be able to begin construction on the project.

They hope to present their plan to the councils by the end of September.

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