Bettendorf I-80/Middle Road sports complex trial balloon punctured by $112,000 feasibility study

Bettendorf and a local developer pushing the idea of an I-80/Middle Road indoor sports complex got a succinct message from a recently completed $112,000 feasibility study: don't do it.

The sports complex concept has been pushed by Mayor Bob Gallagher as a way to draw Midwest sports enthusiasts to the area and accommodate weekend regional youth athletic competitions.

The city gave developer Todd Raufeisen an option to market the city-owned property northeast of the interchange, and he signed a contract with Sports Facilities Advisory (SFA) of Florida in December 2013 to conduct a sports tourism market study with financial projections for the sports complex.

As part of the study, SFA also was to assess existing recreation facilities in the region including the city's aging recreation facilities: Life Fitness Center, Splash Landing pool and Community Center.

After paying $44,500 of the $112,000 cost, Raufeisen stopped funding the work, and the city last January agreed to step in to pay the remaining $67,000 in order to complete the study.

Bettendorf Park Board commissioners got the bad news from SFA on the sport complex idea at its meeting Wednesday (4/15).

Even without figuring in debt costs of a $24-million facility, it wouldn't be able to pay for itself, the SFA report concluded. Simply too much competition in the existing Quad Cities region and not enough revenue from the projected use.

The only regional sports facility that might make sense, according to SFA, would be a waterpark to serve the two-state area. Such a facility would need to be at least 40 percent larger than the current Splash Landing and offer amenities such as a "lazy river" feature.

As for the Life Fitness Center, Community Center and Splash Landing, SFA had little to offer other than for the city to keep operating them with as little new investment as possible.

The study did not project the life expectancies for the city's three main rec facilities, nor did SFA make any recommendations on whether the three facilities should be combined or replaced over the long term.

For the fitness center, SFA suggested private operators might become involved to increase revenues, however, the consultant did not say how a private firm would be able to create higher revenues for the city.

The aging Splash Landing needs the most improvements, according to the SFA report, including sandblasting and repainting of the pool shell, and either refurbishing or replacing of the pool slides.

Only minor improvements were foreseen for the community center, according to the report.

The city owned Palmer Hills Golf Course was not included in the recreational facility study. It, too, has faced major expenses in recent years for renovation of several holes, while seeing a decline in golf rounds tracking the national trend of fewer golfers.

The report will now go to the city council for review.

Raufeisen was given options on the I-80/Middle Road property for more than two years. He was marketing the land as "Spencer Creek, Iowa's Gateway to Technology and Commerce."

In exchange for the exclusive option to purchase the city owned land – along with an adjacent 95-acres owned jointly by James R. and Phyllis Holst and Vi Strobbe – Raufeisen agreed to pay the city and other landowners a total of $65,000. The city has received the total amount, according to City Attorney Kristine Stone, with half going to the landowners and half to the city.

Raufeisen's option on the property expired in February.

Go to top