Libertyville board approves deal to lease sports complex to Canadian firm
Libertyville has shed the responsibility and costs of its cavernous Indoor Sports Complex and improved a burdensome financial position in the process.
A two-year lease with Canlan Sports approved Tuesday by the village board also expands the Canadian firm's portfolio in Illinois as part of its growth strategy.
The lease has an option for Canlan to buy the indoor facility at Route 45 and Peterson Road anytime during the two years for $3.75 million.
"I'm thrilled we are finally at this point after 12 years of trying to move forward on this issue," Mayor Terry Weppler said.
Weppler was referring to the village's struggle during his tenure in office with the draining debt from the Libertyville Sports Complex, which includes a golf driving range/learning center and mini-golf course. Those elements have been closed, with separate sales for other uses in the works.
The indoor portion of the facility had been breaking even, but with revenues from other elements falling short, the village has been transferring more than $1 million a year to cover the outstanding debt on the complex. The debt currently stands at $13.1 million.
Canlan also operates a sportsplex in Lake Barrington, Leafs Ice Centre in West Dundee and a large ice sports facility in Romeoville. Formerly known as Canlan Ice Sports Corp., the company rebranded to reflect its new offerings.
Libertyville is Canlan's third non-ice sports complex. The deal is consistent with the company's planned U.S. expansion to include ice, turf and hard-court sport complexes, said Michael Gellard, executive vice president of Canlan Sports.
"We thought we'd take it for a test run," Gellard said of the lease agreement. "We think it's a great way to diversify our business."
Canlan will pay $20,000 a month in rent after a five-month abatement in recognition of COVID-19 capacity restrictions and startup costs.
During the lease term, Canlan will pay all utility and general maintenance costs and assume all risk for profits or losses.
The lease becomes effective July 1, when Canlan plans to reopen the facility. A return to full programming is expected by the fall. The lease also covers a lighted softball field and outdoor hockey rink.
The indoor sports complex has been closed since March 13, 2020. Full-time jobs, including that of director Connie Kowal, were eliminated.
Discussion with Canlan opened last summer. The company's Lake Barrington facility had reopened, but General Manager Tammy Kerr noticed the Libertyville complex remained closed and contacted the village.
"You never know. Opportunity comes up and here we are," she said.
"Really, it was just a cold call," added Gellard, who has not seen the facility in person.
The indoor portion of the Libertyville facility has two boarded turf fields, eight hard court surfaces for volleyball and basketball, a fully equipped fitness center, a climbing rock wall, and ample space for other activities and third-party tenants.
With the exception of the rock wall, Canlan's Lake Barrington facility is of similar size and features, and hosts many of the same organizations that used the Libertyville complex.
"We don't have a climbing rock in our portfolio," Gellard said. "I'll be interested to see what we can do with it."