'Sports complex' allocated millions in proposed city budget; project yet to be publicly discussed

The proposed Bettendorf city budget would allocate more than $15 million to build a "sports complex" that has yet to be discussed publicly by aldermen.

The budget – which will be discussed at an all-day public work session Saturday (2/11) – includes $2 million for purchase of land for the "sports complex," more than $2 million for roads, lighting and sewer extensions for the project, and lists the issuance of $11.2 million in debt (bonds and notes) to finance the facility construction.

A 20-year Tax Increment Financing (TIF) incentive also is outlined in the fiscal 2017-18 budget (beginning July 1) documents. The TIF would provide an estimated $15 million rebate of property taxes to a yet unidentified organization or individual that would presumably partner in building the facility.

A sports complex has been a long-time goal of Mayor Robert Gallagher and the sports complex is listed as one of the city's "top priorities" in its latest strategic plan. Initial talks about such a facility had focused on a deal between the city and Alter Companies, which has a warehouse along the city riverfront that was considered as a site.

The city also has been seeking development of city owned land at Interstate 80 and Middle Road for nearly 10 years, and a sports complex was part of the vision for that location.

The mayor has said such a complex would 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 on the northeast corner of the interchange. He signed a contract with Sports Facilities Advisory (SFA) of Florida in December 2013 to conduct a sports tourism market study that included financial projections for such a facility.

As part of the study, the consultant also assessed the existing recreation facilities in the region, including the city's aging recreation facilities: the 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 in January 2015 stepped in to pay the remaining $67,000 in order to obtain the study findings.

The sports marketing consultant reported even without including the debt service on the estimated $24 million needed to build the facility, it would not be able to pay for itself. CLICK HERE for details of the report.

The city paid $2.5 million for the117-acre parcel at I-80 and Middle in 2009, and spent an additional $750,000 to re-grade the site to make it more visible to interstate traffic.

Go to top