Oak Brook to look at future of the Sports Core
Trey VanDyke, director of the Oak Brook Sports Core, works in the pro shop at the Oak Brook golf course August 3. | Curtis Lehmkuhl~Sun-Times Media
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- Oak Brook Village Board OKs Sports Core referendum
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Updated: March 15, 2013 11:36AM
OAK BROOK — The 270-acre, village-owned Sports Core has accumulated a $2.3 million debt over the past 20-plus years, according to Oak Brook officials. The deficit has been covered by Oak Brook’s General Fund.
“We absolutely have to do something about this,” Village Trustee Mike Manzo said. “We can’t continue to subsidize the Sports Core like we have been.”
The Village Board plans to discuss the Sports Core and its financial difficulties in March.
Village Manager Dave Niemeyer said general fund resources that have been used to cover Sports Core debt could have been used for other expenses, or to reduce fees.
“Park districts have property tax revenue to help fund things like swimming pools, but we don’t have a municipal property tax,” Niemeyer said.
The biggest long-term financial concern is the lack of a substantial capital replacement fund.
“It averages about $150,000, which just really isn’t enough to cover anything major that needs to be done,” Niemeyer said.
The property at 700 Oak Brook Road was purchased in 1977 from Paul Butler. Along with considerable open space and wooded areas, the Sports Core is home to the Bath & Tennis Club, Oak Brook Golf Club, eight soccer fields and a polo field.
A reduction in the number of rounds being played on the golf course the past few years has had a significant impact on the financial status, Niemeyer said.
“Golf has been hit by weather issues and by the economy,” he said. “Golf has always been our engine.”
Though figures he provided show golf rebounded last year, with 38,637 rounds played compared with just 35,196 rounds in 2011 and 37,750 rounds in 2010. The number remains below the 40,336 rounds played in 2008 and 39,686 rounds in 2009.
Niemeyer said several hundred thousands of dollars would be needed to fix drainage problems on the golf course. He said funding for that could come via the sale to Butler Elementary District 53 of 8.5 acres of Sports Core property for the building of a new school. Two April 9 referendums address that possibility.
“Numbers tell only part of the story,” Niemeyer said. “Every town has attractions that make it unique. Open space is important; it’s a selling point for Oak Brook, both for businesses and residents.”
Niemeyer said the food and beverage operation at the Bath & Tennis Club generally has been the largest drain on the Sports Core’s financial picture.
“We tried outsourcing that out for a couple of years, but that’s didn’t really work out,” he said. “It’s kind of a combination now; we handle the operations, but use outside caterers. Business is coming back, but it’s still something we’re looking at.”