RANTOUL, Ill. (WCIA) — The Rantoul Village Board voted 6-0 to move forward with a 60-acre, $20 million sports complex near Interstate 57.
The site is currently an empty field next to I-57 and could become the new favorite sports destination of the Midwest. That’s what people there will tell you. The village says their vote will give a boost to everybody.
Mayor Charles Smith says taxpayers should not worry about the price tag in the short term. They plan on using other routes for funding.
“When you talk those types of numbers to the public they get concerned,” says Smith. “‘Will that responsibility fall back on me as a taxpayer?’ We don’t anticipate that to be the story here. This project should be able to self-sufficient and support itself.”
The land is owned by the Warner Family. Through a spokesperson, they say they struggled to sell the land before. But with the complex as the anchor, multiple restaurants and hotels have got in touch about opening around the site.
Visit Champaign County has helped the village get in touch with potential tournament hosts. They say multiple organizers were just waiting for that ‘yes’ to pull the trigger.
“We’ve been talking to people from other sports tournaments that drive south all the way to Louisville, drive north into the Chicago area,” says CEO Jayne DeLuce. “They’ve already shown interest when as soon as this would be approved, if it is approved tonight, those sports planners will be on the call and be able to commit to the tournaments they do want to bring here.”
Construction could start as soon as this year with a planned opening in Spring of 2021. The complex will include eight baseball and softball fields, eight soccer and football fields, and playgrounds. The fields will be made of turf to allow the village to operate the complex for 32 weekends of the year.