DEKALB COUNTY, Ind. (WANE) – Developers for the proposed Auburn Sports Park will have one more chance next month to prove they have financing for their project, per the DeKalb County Economic Development Commission.
The commission met Thursday to discuss a bond approval for the Auburn Sports Group, the developers behind what is slated to consist of eight volleyball and basketball courts, eight baseball and softball fields, three multipurpose fields, one indoor 7 on 7 football field, indoor batting cages and an outside concert venue.
Commissioners previously tabled a decision the group’s request for an economic development bond this past September due to financing concerns, and the request was tabled again Thursday until Dec. 29.
That’s when developers of the park have one final chance to prove they have $64 million in financing in place, commission president Mike Watson said.
“We want proof of financing,” Watson said. “That’s part of the development agreement.”
Tim Ehlerding, vice president of customer solutions for FCI Construction, spoke at the meeting on behalf of the sports park developers at Thursday’s meeting, and later told WANE TV the group plans to have all the information in place for December’s meeting.
He said the group is taking the proper steps to acquire the money it plans to invest for infrastructure, and also that the group members felt commissioners were already shown a plan to put that money into place.
“We’ve got what they need, there was just some clarifications they wanted,” Ehlerding said. “We don’t anticipate a problem, and once we close on everything, we will start excavation and demolition as soon as possible.”
The group’s personal finance bonds are required to pass through the county in order for $18 million in tax increment finance (TIF) dollars to be returned to the group to pay off a portion of the bonds.
If the bond passes through the economic development commission, the project still needs to be approved by county council, county commissioners and by the redevelopment commission.
To build the infrastructure at the park, expected to be located on County Road 11 A, the Auburn Sports Group is requesting the use of 74 percent of the new property tax revenues generated solely by the investment with the park property, and to limit this use to 18 years, according to a handout Ehlerding gave commissioners.
The remaining 26 percent of new property taxes, growing to 100 percent of the property tax revenues after the 18 years, “will be directed to the county to improve the lives of DeKalb County citizens,” the handout said.
According to the handout, the group is asking for the $18 million economic development bond revenues be limited to infrastructure improvements including streets, utilities, lighting, stormwater, grading, parking and traffic control.
“In no way is the ASP team asking the current taxpayers of DeKalb County to underwrite or fund any part of this project,” the handout from Ehlerding said.
Developers wrote in the handout that 300 new jobs will be created and that the project will bring in 100,000 new visitors along with roughly $15 million of new money from outside the county.
Still, commissioners said the group has only provided a “letter of interest,” which they did not view as a commitment of loan approval.
“I don’t think it even rises to the level of a letter of intent,” said Watson on what the group provided. “It was the economic development attorney’s opinion that it did not rise to the requirements to fulfill the development agreement.”
“We’ve done our very best to give them every opportunity to fulfill their side of the agreement,” Watson continued.
He called the Dec. 29 meeting the group’s “last opportunity” to show proof of funding.