Editorial: Decision to delay Boomers stadium work saves millions

  • The decision not to spend $10.5 million on improvements to Boomers Stadium proved a plus for Schaumburg taxpayers.

      The decision not to spend $10.5 million on improvements to Boomers Stadium proved a plus for Schaumburg taxpayers. Mark Welsh | Staff Photographer

 
The Daily Herald Editorial Board
Updated 1/9/2019 6:01 PM

Taxpayers often complain that if government can spend their money, government will.

That's not always the case.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

Take for instance the 20-year-old Schaumburg Boomers baseball stadium, which in 2018 faced competition from the opening of the Chicago Dogs baseball stadium in Rosemont.

The village of Schaum­burg and the Schaum­burg Park District, which jointly own the stadium, had been debating whether to renovate the party deck in left field, add an upper level to the team store, replace some grandstand seats with terrace seats and tables, update the suites, add electrical outlets along the concourse for vendors and install artificial turf on the field to increase the number of events the stadium can host, according to reporting from our Eric Peterson.

Park district officials were more interested in focusing on maintenance, while village officials were interested in some big impact changes that would draw patrons.

A consultant had recommended $13 million in upgrades, a proposal that evolved into a four-year, $10.5-million plan.

But the competitive threat didn't materialize as much as expected. The Boomers' 2018 attendance led the 12-member Frontier League with 149,225 fans, just 11,000 short of the 2017 season.

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The Dogs brought in 138,855 fans in the same number of dates.

And so the governmental partners scrapped the expansion plan, saving taxpayer money for other things.

That governmental bodies decided against spending millions is worth noting, as we did on the front page.

"Kudos to village and park district boards for working together amicably and reaching a solid decision," wrote Facebook commenter Bill Stade. "The connection between many of the consultant's recommendations and improved revenue or attendance is uncertain at best. However, I think the officials should run the numbers again on the possibility of additional dates that might be validly linked to installing artificial turf. It's nice to see good government at work."

We've supported other speculative projects based on the likelihood of success, including a parking garage that would be shared by the Schaum­burg Convention Center and a planned entertainment district to its north. Without parking, the entertainment district would be in trouble from the start; with the parking garage, the convention center can only benefit.

The necessity of the stadium project was less certain.

The disagreement between the village and park boards led to a wait-and-see approach on the Rosemont effect, which proved to offer a minimal threat in the first year.

If you look at the suburban casino market, construction of the Rivers Casino in Des Plaines put a big dent in the number of Chicagoans commuting to Elgin's Grand Victoria Casino. So it's reasonable to have assumed a Rosemont ballpark would have a similar effect. In this case, waiting resulted in a sound financial decision for Schaumburg.

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