Armed with a 17-page document, Hauter went through the
proposal outlining what the club would like to build and where, and
what the financial benefit to the city could be.
In 2006 Wal-Mart
Inc. entered into an agreement with the city for the building of a
new Supercenter on the west side of town. The agreement included
giving 27 acres of land located immediately south of the new store
to the city.
Since that time, the property has been leased on a cash rent
basis for agricultural production. This year the lease is held by
Corey Farmer at a cost of $227.90 per acre for 25 acres.
The lease will expire in February 2010, and Farmer has indicated
that he will not be willing to pay that same price for the coming
year. He has said that the ground has a marshy area that produces
very little yield, and he feels that at best the lease value should
be $200 per acre.
At the Sept. 29 committee-of-the-whole meeting, this topic was
addressed, and Mayor Keith Snyder said then that there was a "local
organization" interested in developing the property.
The Lincoln Futbol Club is that organization.
Hauter opened by saying that he was nominated to address the
council because he is a fan of the sport and that both of his kids
have been heavily involved in soccer. He noted that his 16-year-old
son, Ben, has been playing since he was 4 and has a passion for the
For the past eight years Ben has been a member of a traveling
soccer club called Central Illinois Select that started in
Springfield and is now in Bloomington.
His father has served four years on the board of that traveling club
and has learned a great deal from the experience. He said that the
club started hosting tournaments and successfully built a soccer
complex, complete with lighting, from scratch.
The Lincoln Futbol Club was formed early this spring and ended
this year's season with 70 players. Hauter says that the club is
growing, and they anticipate adding more players before the next
They currently have three coaches and are receiving technical
assistance and training from the high school soccer coach.
The group has also been working toward landing sponsorships for
their teams, and to date approximately 30 to 35 local businesses are
supporting them in that manner.
"Lincoln Futbol Club's mission is to foster success in soccer and
develop an athlete's career with responsibility, self-discipline and
respect for others," Hauter said. "Our goal is to build a player
base and promote soccer as a sport and achieve the competitive
success that will bring a name to Lincoln for their soccer team."
Hauter said that the club wants to take the same route as Central
Illinois Select and build a complex in the city that would be
capable of hosting large tournaments.
Currently there are fields available in the city, but each one
has its own set of problems.
The former Lincoln Developmental Center campus has two fields,
but Hauter said they are not regulation size, which is necessary for
tournaments. He also noted that the future of the LDC campus is
uncertain, so the club can't know that they will be able to continue
using those fields.
Lincoln High School has fields, but they are also used for
football and high school soccer, so scheduling becomes an issue. In
addition there are problems with insurance when using the high
Hauter said that Lincoln College has space and has been gracious
enough to allow the club to use it for practices. However, the club
has to schedule around college soccer games, insurance is a problem,
and the club cannot use the fields when school is not in session.
Hauter is asking the city to allow the club to develop 12 acres
of the 27 behind Walmart into a complete soccer complex.
The plan proposed is for five full-sized soccer fields and two
smaller fields. The full-sized fields would be used for games with
kids 12 years of age and up. Those same fields would also be used,
half at a time, for youth in the 4- to 7-year-old age bracket. The
smaller fields would be for kids in the age group between 8 and 12
The club wishes to take full responsibility for the fields. They
will do the necessary ground leveling, field construction and
maintenance, and hope to eventually add night lighting to the
complex as well.
Hauter said that they would raise money to build and maintain the
complex through fundraisers and are currently working to get a
501(c)(3) designation as a not-for-profit organization.
In addition to the playing fields, the club will put up a snack
shack and first-aid station and provide portable toilets. The east
edge of the 12 acres will be gravel and will provide access from
Malerich Drive as well as parking.
Hauter also said that the club would provide liability insurance
on the property.
In discussing benefits to the city, he said that soccer is the
fastest growing high school and college sport in the United States.
It promotes a healthy lifestyle through sports, will increase the
ratio of park area to population that potential new residents look at,
will improve nearby property values and produce a positive economic
impact on the city through visitors to local tournaments.
He said that the economic impact to local businesses is quite
important, as the average local youth player will spend $480
annually on equipment, travel expenses and food. He cited statistics
from the Georgia Soccer Association showing that in the youth
programs approximately $158 per year is spent just on food eaten out
Statistically speaking the cost per year goes up to $3,845 per
player when kids reach high school-level competition and includes
nights spent in motels and approximately $755 per year in local
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The greatest economic impact for local business would be in having
tournaments. Hauter said that the club would host two tournaments
per year and that the revenues local businesses could earn would be
in the area of approximately $800,000 total.
Hauter said that the club would also work with the YMCA, Lincoln
High School and any other organization that was interested in using
If the land is turned over to the club, they want to start
development immediately after the field is harvested. Hauter said
that the seeding of the fields would need to mature, so he feels
that the earliest the club would be able to use the complex would be
late spring to early summer next year. He said that they would
like to host one tournament next year in the fall, then two
tournaments per year beginning in 2011.
Alderwoman Kathy Horn asked if the group was eligible for any
grants. Hauter said that there are grants available. He noted a
complex built in Springfield that was funded by a grant through the
U.S. Soccer Federation. However, he doesn't think the club can make
the Oct. 31 grant deadline for any funding this year.
Of the 27 acres, the current plan calls for only 12 to be used
for the soccer fields. Hauter said that the club was willing to take
responsibility for all the acreage and that they have talked about
adding a shelter and picnic area, perhaps a Frisbee golf course, or
even just a finished walking path where folks could take a nice walk
amid an area of native grasses.
The mayor asked what the club was thinking regarding a lease on
the property and the term of the lease. Hauter responded that they
would want a lease term of at least five years.
Alderman Nathan Turner asked if the club would charge other area
organizations for use of the complex. Hauter said that it would be
dependent on the use and the organization, but that it is all up for
He added that the club has talked to the YMCA about their
program. When Ben Hauter started playing soccer at the YMCA there
were over 800 players in the program. This has decreased
significantly over the years. Hauter said that the facilities at the
YMCA are not ideal and that Lincoln FC wants to work with that
organization and hopefully build up their soccer teams as well.
City attorney Bill Bates said that the land was given to the city
by Wal-Mart with restrictions on the use of the property. He added
that he doesn't believe there were any restrictions that would
prohibit using it for a sporting venue. He will look into that.
Alderman David Wilmert said the question that needs to be
answered is whether or not Farmer would want to go ahead and lease
the remaining acres, or if the club should take over the full 27
He also wondered what the going rate for leasing the ground to a
soccer club might be.
Turner said that he really wasn't as concerned about the city
receiving money for the property as he was for having some kind of
stipulations on the ground being developed. He indicated that he
would not want to see the property sitting idle because the club
couldn't raise funds, yet the city had given them a five-year lease.
Alderwoman Melody Anderson said she thought the complex was a
wonderful idea. She also was not concerned so much about the lost
income from the cash renting as she was about doing the right thing
toward notifying Farmer that the city would not renew the lease.
Bates said that in this particular case, it is the first year of
a written lease, so technically there is no requirement for a written
notice to terminate. However he feels that it is proper to issue a
written notice, and in Illinois written notice must be delivered at
least four months before the end of the term.
Anderson commented that she wanted to try to maintain a deadline
of the end of October on the decision to renew the lease with
She also noted that sometimes things end up getting dragged out
in council and she didn't want to do that to the club either, as
they need to be able to move forward regardless of the council's
Bates asked what the legal status of the club was at the moment.
He wondered if it was a partnership, LLC or corporation. He asked
Hauter to define who the lease would be with, and it seemed that at
the moment, the lease would be with the individual members of the
board of the club.
Bates said that would make each board member financially liable
for the complex and perhaps that would not be advisable. Hauter said
the board would look at that and see what they needed to do.
It was concluded that the council's building and grounds
committee will have a special meeting to discuss this on Oct. 19 at
6:15 p.m. They have also set a voting deadline of Nov. 2 for
approving or denying the club's proposal.
[By NILA SMITH]