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Supporters Go to Bat for Lemont Sports Complex

One resident called the $21-million complex a "win-win-win," during a Jan. 27 board meeting. Supporters teamed up and shared their views on the controversial facility.

Supporters of an oft-debated, controversial proposed sports complex in Lemont came ready to play Monday night. 

Lemont residents with children in travel sports voiced their approval of the $21-million project, pointing to their observations of sport-related revenue and visitor traffic as possible boons for the village. 

"This is an opportunity that we do NOT want to lose," said Pat Stanton, Lemont resident and business owner. "I think it will bring a tremendous amount of jobs and opportunity." 

Mayor Brian Reaves's vision for the 129,000-square-foot complex has some residents concerned about repercussions of potential shortfall in revenue, some saying the local community does not reflect the need for such a facility. 

But parents at Monday's village board meeting painted the complex as a magnet for the travel sports community.

Many parents detailed busy weekends spent shuttling children between different sports facilities, along with money spent shopping local restaurants and stores. Resident Jen Egan said she uses her time in between her kids' travel games to tackle everyday errands, in stores nearby a facility.

"I think it really could spill over into the rest of the community," Egan said. "I would be very proud to have something like that in our community."

Local athletes need a facility nearby where they can develop their skills more fully, said Jason Nash, President of Lemont Hornets Football and Lemont Bears Wrestling. As a feeder program for Lemont High School, many of the league's players go on to compete for LHS. 

"I've seen the need for this sports complex for years," Nash said. "We will continue to maintain a competitive edge, and I feel this complex will help us do that."

Parent Mike Gardner told the board if they build it, "We'll bring the teams."

Residents have expressed skepticism that the facility will bring in an amount close to the projected revenue, and financing for the project has also come under scrutiny. Board members earlier in January fully backed private financing for the complex, repealing an ordinance that called for it to be paid for with bonds. The revoked ordinance would have enabled the village to use facility revenue, sales tax, income tax and tax increment finance funds to fund the complex.

It also allowed for residents to petition for a referendum about purchasing the bonds—an option they exercised by collecting 1,700 signatures to demand the issue be put on the March 2014 ballot.

Repealing the ordinance nixed the need for the bonds, and squashed the possibility of a referendum.

Several audience members Monday pressed the board to give residents a vote on the complex. One urged the board to continue its pursuit. 

"There is little downside to this," Stanton said. "This is a win-win-win.

"Fight for it. Put every effort you can into it." 

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