Belleville exploring ‘entertainment sports complex’ with hotel and ice rink

A plan for a multimillion dollar “entertainment sports complex” in a public-private development is expected to be proposed before Belleville City Council members as soon as next month.

The privately operated complex would be used to attract traveling sports teams to play tournaments on weekends while the public could use the site Monday to Thursday, according to plans discussed by city officials.

The council’s Economic Development and Annexation Committee unanimously voted Wednesday to authorize the city’s director of economic development to get a cost estimate of the project along with the amount and type of funding the city would invest.

While details of the plan have not been released, this complex could include a hotel and ice rink as well as baseball and softball fields, according to Cliff Cross, the city’s director of economic development, planning and zoning.

Cross said in an interview after the meeting that the concept doesn’t include soccer fields or a community swimming pool although the hotel could have a pool.

Cross said he couldn’t disclose the sites where the complex could be located.

The Economic Development committee members had an online video meeting with Jason Boudrie, the founder and CEO of North Carolina-based Synergy Sports.

Boudrie gave the committee a description of various funding options for what he called a “transformative” project. In one scenario he described, the city would buy a 20 or 30 acre site and then lease it to a developer for $1.

“Belleville essentially gets a $50 or $60 million complex that out-of-town visitors are paying for,” Boudrie said.

Boudrie said a public-private partnership is worth pursuing because “Then you get all of the benefits of community use and all the benefits of sports tourism.” He noted visitors would boost the area’s economy by staying in a hotel and eating in restaurants.

Synergy Sports has prepared a “feasibility study” for Belleville officials regarding the sports complex but this report was not released. Cross said he needed to check with the city attorney to see if this study could be released to the public.

“We’ve brought the feasibility study to you,” Cross told the committee members. “If we don’t act on this sooner than later, we’re going to lose the ball on this.

“There are risks, don’t get me wrong, but I think what we have shown with this is these are justified risks at this point.”

Boudrie said he would like to have city officials travel with him to see one of his company’s projects. He said he has developments in Florida, Texas and the Northeast.

Members of the Economic Development committee all voted for the project.

“This is a win-win situation,” said Ward 5 Alderwoman Shelly Schaefer. “This should have happened years ago. I mean, this has been a long time coming.”

In 2015, there was a groundbreaking ceremony for a soccer field complex next to the now closed Hofbräuhaus German restaurant located off Illinois 15. The soccer field developer wanted traveling teams to patronize hotels and restaurants that the Hofbräuhaus developers would build but these projects never came to fruition. David Thorman, who proposed the soccer field complex, died in 2016 and Chuck Keller, who developed the Hofbräuhaus along with his sons, died in 2019.

Meanwhile, the O’Fallon Family Sports Park has opened at 301 Oberneufemann Drive. It features 11 soccer fields and 10 ball diamonds, according to the city’s website. O’Fallon officials have said this park has boosted the city’s economy.

Originally Appeared Here

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About the Author: Rayne Chancer