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Chicago Daily Herald


Gurnee residents and local youth sports leaders will have a chance Thursday to give feedback directly to the consultants studying whether the village would be a good place for a new youth sports complex. The consultants, from Florida-based Sports Facilities Advisory, have been meeting with a wide variety of potential stakeholders since they were given the job last month, according to Mayor Kristina Kovarik. "They have been doing a lot of data gathering," Kovarik said.

The meeting for Gurnee residents will begin at 2:30 p.m. Thursday, the meeting for representatives of turf and court sports will begin at 3:30 p.m. and the meeting for representatives of ice sports will begin at 4:30 p.m. All meetings will be held at Gurnee village hall and each will be open to the public. Kovarik said it is a good opportunity for residents to have their voices heard. "I always hear people buzzing on social media saying 'I wish we had this' or 'I wish we had that,'" Kovarik said. "Well this is your opportunity to have a say in it."

The comments consultants hear Thursday will be included, along with other information, in a detailed report. In addition to interviewing experts, organizations and residents, the consultants will produce a detailed financial forecast that includes how much developing the 35-acre triangular plot of land just south of Six Flags Great America might cost and what form it should take.

If the consultants' report concludes that a youth sports complex is feasible, then village staff can use it to entice private developers. Sports Facilities Advisory is being paid $48,000 to conduct the study. "We're trying to determine what is the demand in northern Lake, which sports are the most profitable to host in a venue and what kind of venue would it require," Kovarik said. "It's a big gamble for developers. We want to find what would have the most market appeal."

Based on comments from several leaders in local youth hockey made at a village board meeting last month, there is a need for more practice ice in the area. Lindenhurst resident Walter Delaney, of the Lakers Hockey Club, said youth hockey has grown exponentially and the demand for ice time has grown with it, leading to a shortage. He said if a new sports complex ended up being built with ice rinks, he thought fewer local teams would have to travel to southern Wisconsin.

"This is exactly why we're hiring a consultant, to validate that and bear it out," Kovarik told Delaney at the August meeting. "Is it truly sustainable (for) five years, 10 years, 15 years? The worst thing we could do is go down this path and then the next board and the next mayor is like, 'What were they thinking of?'"

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September 18, 2018


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