Kane County Cougars stadium improvements should sail through
Pending construction that would bring a giant high-definition screen and more concerts to Fifth Third Ballpark, home of the Kane County Cougars, received high praise from forest preserve commissioners Friday during their first look at the plans.
The Kane County Forest Preserve District owns the stadium. So all the improvements that will be privately financed by the Cougars will remain the property of the forest district. As such, the plans need preapproval from the commission before any work can begin. A unanimous vote by the commission's executive committee Friday indicates that will not be a problem.
Forest Preserve District President John Hoscheit said he's heard nothing but positive comments from residents since the plans became public earlier this week. The good feelings even extend to the only aspect of the plans that may raise a few eyebrows -- permanent infrastructure for music concerts at the stadium. Most of the concerts, as many as 10, will continue to be offered on game days for the Cougars. But the park will also host up to three concerts while the Cougars are on the road during the summer.
Hoscheit said any major concerts, on the level of the popular Wilco show a few years ago, will still need prior approval from the forest commission.
"I did actually get calls from people this year who wanted to go to just the concerts," Hoscheit said. "The economics of a large event in an outside stadium, and you see this with Soldier Field when it gets trashed, is if it rains you could ruin your field. But I think the stadium is capable of handling some large-size acts where you'd like to get 10,000 to 12,000 people. As Wilco showed, if you get the right band here you'll fill that place."
Hoscheit said the new high-definition big screen will also be a benefit to any concerts at the stadium. For now, he's not worried about any increase in noise or light.
"We're just encouraged that they are committed to make the investment in the facility," Hoscheit said. "Any stadium like that needs updates. It's about attracting a broader base of people."