Mayor enlists friends to lobby fellow city council members; push for city sports complex incentives

Bettendorf Mayor Bob Gallagher – apparently fearing fellow city council members might reject millions in taxpayer funded incentives for a proposed sports complex – sent an email to friends and associates last week urging them to lobby the city council in support of the venture.

"I have learned that people who detract from projects organize and gather to be heard," Gallagher wrote in the email. "While those who trust their elected officials and support wonderful projects, usually don’t make it a point to be heard. That is human nature. I need you to please be heard on this one!"

Gallagher attached a copy of a "city incentive versus city benefits" memo which claims the $45-million sports complex would provide a $2.95 million "net benefit" to the city. However, the analysis failed to include an estimated $14 million in tax rebates the developers would receive under the 20-year Tax Increment Financing (TIF) deal.

It is not known who prepared the incentive-versus-benefit memo, and City Finance Director Carol Barnes and City Administrator Decker Ploehn have refused to provide with the city's calculation of total TIF rebates for the project. From documents obtained through a Freedom of Information request by, it appears not even the city council has been given a total TIF rebate amount for the sports complex project and adjacent commercial development.

The council is scheduled to discuss the sports complex development agreement at tonight's (5/1) committee-of-the-whole meeting, and then vote on the development package at the council regular meeting Tuesday (5/2).

The sports complex developer Doug Kratz has been pushing the city to act quickly on the development agreement and city bond issues so work on the project could begin June 1 and be completed by August of next year.

In his email, Gallagher stated the sports complex would not replace the city owned Life Fitness Center and "is not at all related to the Bettendorf Fitness Center as some might have you believe."

However, the fitness center's future, as well as the city pool and community center, have come up in discussions about the sports complex.

In his initial development proposal to the city, Kratz sought assurances the Life Fitness Center would not "compete in any nature with the Sports Complex."

City Economic Development Director Jeff Reiter made a pencil notation on the document: "Can't make that guarantee, but we have no intentions."

And, when Parks and Recreation Director Steve Grimes suggested at the March Park Board meeting that the city move forward to determine the future of the community center, Splash Landing pool and fitness center, the discussion was delayed after Chairman Larry Makoben said the park board should wait to see what the city council's direction was toward the sports complex before taking up future plans for the city facilities.

As part of the development agreement with Kratz, the city would buy 10 acres of land adjacent to the sports complex for $600,000. It is unclear for what purpose the city would use that land.

Below is the full text of Mayor Gallagher's email being circulated to drum up support for sports complex development agreement:


Hello Friends:

I’m writing you to ask you a quick favor. I chose you because of our relationship, but also because of your sphere of influence. I need your help to make this dream a reality!

I have learned that people who detract from projects organize and gather to be heard. While those who trust their elected officials and support wonderful projects, usually don’t make it a point to be heard. That is human nature.

I need you to please be heard on this one!

If you want to see the Indoor/Outdoor Sports Complex and Family Entertainment Center, , built in Bettendorf, now is the time to be heard! The vote on approving the financing and Site Development Plan will be Tuesday at 7:00 pm at City Hall. You are all welcome to attend! However, a quick note of support to indicating that you “have reviewed the City Incentive package and the overall benefit to the city and our region and you support the project as proposed” would be sufficient to help push this awesome development over the finish line!

I have been working on this idea for the five years I have been in office. The complex proposed will be a game changer for our cool, creative region. It is 79 acres, 265,000 square feet under roof and over $45 Million in private investment. This does not include the $20 Million in private investment for the adjacent commercial area that will have hotels, restaurants and shopping.

Attached please find the City Incentives vs City Benefits analysis. This analysis shows that the City will be made whole on this project, without consideration of the increase in sales tax or property tax that will come from any development in the area, which is a given based on the size of this complex and the people it will attract for weekend tournaments. Furthermore, this complex is not at all related to the Bettendorf Fitness Center, as some might have you believe. This is a competition complex and will not replace the Life Fitness Center.

If you believe in this complex, please feel free to share with your friends and anyone you know that travels with sports age children! This project is a game changer for the Quad Cities!

Thanks for your time!



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