Illinois mini-ballparks seek public bonds

A group of private investors in Romeoville, Illinois, is looking to build miniature versions of Fenway Park, Wrigley Field, Yankee Stadium, Minute Maid Park, and U.S. Cellular Field for youth baseball — and wants the village of Romeoville to sell $4 million in bonds to finance the deal. The private group, ML&B, says it would pay $320,000 in annual rent, which should be enough to pay off the bonds, but the Chicago Tribune reports that the village would own the site, which presumably means ML&B would be exempt from paying property taxes, just like the real fake Yankee Stadium.

The Trib further observes that while the developers make all kinds of claims about the economic activity to be generated by Little Leaguers flocking to Romeoville, there’s no guarantee that this will actually happen. (ML&B is apparently expecting to charge $750 per person per day to play on its fields, which seems slightly, shall we say, insane.) The paper notes:

Operators of the Sears Centre Arena in Hoffman Estates, for instance, estimated when it was built in 2005 that more than 125 events a year would gross more than $10 million a year. Four years later, the arena is losing money, its only regular event is lingerie football and taxpayers in the village could be on the hook for the $55 million bond issued to pay for it, plus millions more in interest.

That certainly sounds dire, but who’s to say that lingerie football can’t become a viable anchor tenant? After all, some of the players have actually dated real football players.