River Forest board OKs study of sports complex at Hines site

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Deborah Kadin

Contributing Reporter

A practice sports facility may fill the long-vacant Hines Lumber site on Madison Street — but it could be a long time before teams can take the fields or courts.

River Forest trustees Monday night unanimously gave direction to start the process of assessing Thomas Cronin's plan to turn the Hines property and the village's adjacent public works facility into a 65,000-square-foot sports complex.

The complex would include an indoor, 45-yard, football practice field; a 160-meter indoor track; and multi-use courts for basketball, volleyball and other sports. Parking would be situated at the north and south ends of the building. The complex would be situated near the Good Earth Greenhouse/Juice Joint. 

Groups and individuals would use the complex for a fee, said Cronin, who signed a contract for the property a couple of months ago, refusing to disclose the name of the principal tenant for the project, but he hinted it is an institution of higher learning in River Forest with deep roots in River Forest.

The site will go back on the tax rolls, Cronin indicated, adding that he knew the village wanted retail for that site, but it would be a tough place to situate shops because of the lot size (it is long and narrow) and location.

Cronin, however, noted the sports complex would bring "moms and dads and kids and mini-vans to the area to shop and engage."

"There's a big need for something like this because of the explosion of youth sports," he said.

A project like this could inspire other businesses down Madison Street to do something, Trustee Susan Conti pointed out.

The complex would be a unique use, Village Administrator Eric Palm said, because that area hasn't seen a lot of sports facilities like this.

It also is the first serious proposal brought forward for the site, which housed Hines Lumber for nearly a century before it was forced to close nearly four years ago after the economy collapsed.

The proposal will now go to the Development Review Board, which will be tasked with conducting hearings and making recommendations to the village board on the application.

The project also may be examined by the newly-created ad-hoc economic development committee to assess whether it fits in with the corridor study, Village President Catherine Adduci said. Creation of the committee also was formally approved Monday night.

Reader Comments

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The Brad from OP  

Posted: July 6th, 2013 1:13 PM

Did not "Bounce Sports" come here about 18 months ago running down Oak Park and promoting their new facility in Berwyn every opportunity they would get? Lots of free advertising at the expense of others, and now "Bounce" is receiving a taste of their own medicine. Good Job, River Forest. Karma has a way of kicking people in the ass.

Bounce Sports  

Posted: July 5th, 2013 6:03 PM

Glad you went to an ivy league bschool like most of us :-). Agreed that we can push the limits of the law/ethics. Perhaps if you invest $1MM or 2 of your own money, your opinion may change on what's fair? We are not RF insiders so we will not be involved in this deal as we are handicapped - at the end of the day this has no impact on our plan to be public in 5 years. Also, we will not rule out litigation if required. We will not comment on this deal anymore.

Biz School grad from Oak Park  

Posted: July 5th, 2013 5:45 PM

This plan looks interesting on the surface, & best of luck to them & the RF board. I've no dog in the fight, but Bounce, all Mr Cronin is doing is textbook business intelligence. Assuming he's not breaking in to your office at night to copy financials, he's simply being smart & researching a competitor. It's done all the time. Secret shoppers, etc. Nothing wrong with approaching a customer. It's on you to do all you can to keep them. All is fair in love and business. Lighten up, Francis!

Bounce Sports  

Posted: July 5th, 2013 5:11 PM

So put yourself in our position, someone knows who your biggest customer is, comes in your facility for months in clandestine manner, then pitches that customer to fund their facility -with similar design (read minutes of meeting) Again, we are investigating this situation but are at min. very unsettled. We are not saying the attorney (person who came in) did something wrong but at min, he should have said, I am working with contractors, banks etc to build. .

Bounce sports  

Posted: July 5th, 2013 4:58 PM

Absolutely, come in facility walk thru and take a look. The individual came in over three months a every week and engaged with staff, asked questions (researching what was exactly discussed) while working on the plan for this facility. Illegal, problable not, unethical, yes. We invested over $1MM in cash into of our own money and we ptiched river forest this idea before Berwyn location. What you are unaware of is the "anchor client" they are pitching is one of our biggest customers

I like it  

Posted: July 5th, 2013 4:46 PM

Smart competitors scout the competition, in business and in sports, right?

Bounce Sports  

Posted: July 5th, 2013 4:33 PM

The business strategy of LA Fitness, Lifetime, FFC, bounce (as we are opening 20-30 facilities in midwest) are very different. Elements include service delivery, product lines, and design is a ciritcal element that we spent 5 months working on getting right. We can assure you that we are not a "gym" business. True we will not spend $8MM - we will not go into debt - cash/equity for all our deals.

I like it  

Posted: July 5th, 2013 4:24 PM

With all due respect, you are building gyms, not robots. I don't see the big IP issue. Plus, competition benefits the consumer -- local families. That's a good thing.

Blounce sports  

Posted: July 5th, 2013 4:01 PM

We can assure you that if we discover any elements of our business strategy/design etc are used inappropriately, we will be in litigation. By way of background, our management team purchased 30 software companies, took it public in 2008 and sold it for $4BB in 2011. We are seasoned and serious business proffessionals who have been around the block a few times.

Bounce Sports  

Posted: July 5th, 2013 3:48 PM

@ I like it - we are not worried. We have the backing of the founder of ebay, 2 facilities open and two more in final stages of acquisition, We are annoyed that one of the people in this deal has been coming into bounce for months and recently revealed he is doing this. We will protect our IP very aggressively. Secondly, the anaysis regarding space is objective - if someone wants to take aout a $8 million loan, and a sponsor will back the risk, i hope the board is gets the risk.

I like it  

Posted: July 5th, 2013 3:09 PM

We could use more practice/playing space for youth teams in the area. The competition looks worried, judging by all the posts, but I think the area can support another facility like this. I hope this project succeeds.

Bounce sports  

Posted: July 5th, 2013 12:55 PM

Then look at the supply side - You have sports zone on North with 100,000 square feet, Max with 150,000 and us with 20,000 - give that supply profile, most will fight to keep base by lowering price. So, lets say average rental rate is $125 per hour (peak times) - and $100,000 in monthly expenses - even with a "sponsor" it is tough. No sponsor is going to risk their own balance sheet if they are saavy.

Bounce Sports  

Posted: July 5th, 2013 12:52 PM

Of course any business can assume any risk it chooses. Rather analysis of capital structure/financing of facilties. All else levering up (taking on $8MM in debt) is far more risky than cash (how Bounce pays for facilities) - the recent history of Frozen Ropes in bankrutcy /Lake Barrington is a cautionary tale (goole them). $8MM in debt means $100-120,000 per month in payments with heat/electric, insurance (very high). Again, everyone has the right take on as much debt as they choose.

RF Achievement  

Posted: July 5th, 2013 11:32 AM

@ At Bounce - so what is wrong with making cash along with accepting RISK. That is what the Private Sector is for. As to your comment about the RFPD - shows what you are missing. Public Sector should not be entering Any venture which has market Risk like this. They Do NOT have the knowledge, experience or keen sense of running a FREE market venture like this.

Bounce Sports  

Posted: July 4th, 2013 4:17 PM

We learned two days ago that one of the principals in this proposed deal has been coming in our facility for the last three months and that several of the design elements - 45 yard field, glass front and 32 foot ceilings for multisport is exactly the design of our two facilities. We will protect our intellectual property up to and including litigation. We have no issue with competition - we do have an issue with someone coming in not telling who they are and a facility design that is similar

Bounce Sports  

Posted: July 2nd, 2013 6:40 PM

There are far more profitable businesses which have better leverage (i.e. software). Large upfront investment, high energy cost, competitive space - (5 facilities within 10 miles of proposed space) and high failure rate - see frozen ropes Chicago - on $8MM investment that is $100,000 a month break even - at $125 hr (average rental rate in area) - do the math.

At Bounce Sports  

Posted: July 2nd, 2013 8:58 AM

Don't kid yourself or better yet blow smoke up our ... This is a cash machine for you! As any business should be. My question is ..Why doesn't the Village of RF Park District build it themselves as a revenue maker?

Bounce Sports   

Posted: July 2nd, 2013 7:49 AM

We are building a regional branded fitnesss and sports business because we are committed to a mission (vs. just a deal). Our mission is the inspire youth to reach their potential regardless of income, ability or speacil need" Those are our values - we give time to programs in need, we have obesity and developmental fitness classes for children who don't have options, we live these values everyday and they drive our business" - facilities are not cash machines - must be driven by need to help.

James from RF  

Posted: July 2nd, 2013 7:00 AM

@James II - so you are on the Committee? Who is on the Committee, that was my question. I know about submitting names -- so what. Who is on it ALREADY

Bounce sports   

Posted: July 1st, 2013 11:58 PM

@ anton - your other comment was perhaps the most insightful "available off hours" - any anchor will likely choose peak hours/premium times from which you can infer means times for locals might be limited - so in essence it is a capitve facility.

Bounce Sports  

Posted: July 1st, 2013 11:45 PM

The most important questions revolve around long term strategy - how does a firm sustain itself in downturn, how does it enhance community (i.e. obesity programs for children) beyond the obvious. Also, there are several facilities in bankruptcy - it is a tough business in which inexperienced players often struggles. Frozen Ropes spent $8MM in in 2009 to build 40,000 facility in Niles - now bankrupt. Mccook was taken over from owners - Management team and expertise cannot be overstated.

Bounce Sports  

Posted: July 1st, 2013 11:41 PM

@ anton - interesting insight. As we have facilities in Berwyn and Ravenswood Chicago, the reality is facilities enhance the existing traffic and add incremental growth. The reality is that other variables determine the growth including proximty to food (so they can eat when drop children), parking spaces and ease of access to other areas via walking. There is some uptick but it is incremental - not radical growth. Our analysis shows 15% of all visitors do shop in area.

Anton  

Posted: July 1st, 2013 9:36 PM

"...would bring moms and dads and kids and mini-vans to the area to shop and engage." Really? Shop where? Engage where? The only retail is in Forest Park. A private practice facility that is only available to others at off hours and at a fee does not meet the definition of econonic development.

Bounce Sports  

Posted: July 1st, 2013 9:18 PM

There should be an open and fair process to evaluate all offers, no coflicts of interest and the indepence of all parties. We are backed by private equity (founder of ebay), indepdant and are building 20 facilties. We have experience operating, financing and growng facilties. We use no debt so it is far less risky and given the size of this project it is at lease $8-9MM to build. This means that enormus volume is required even with anchor tenant (who cant pay for the entire $8-9MM)

Bounce Sports  

Posted: July 1st, 2013 9:04 PM

It is in the best interest of the citizens of Village of River Forest to hear other options. We met with the Village in October of last year to pitch this idea. Running sports facilities is a challenging business, with a steep learning curve and requisite expertise.

Bounce Sports  

Posted: July 1st, 2013 8:55 PM

We will be bidding on project as well. We have backing of large investment firm and established facilities. Running facilities takes experience and knowledge.

Kay from River Forest  

Posted: June 28th, 2013 3:53 PM

Developing this vacant parcel is necessary. However, Thomas Cronin has a vested interest in The Good Earth, with his wife being an owner. To echo another's comment--let's be sure that this process is fair, transparent, and open to all residents, not just the ones who stand to personally benefit.

James II from River Forest  

Posted: June 27th, 2013 1:22 PM

Calling all Taxpayers!! If you want to be on a committee you can apply on line...it is very easy and very transparent. Thank you, President Adduci for making this process not only easy but transparent....as you promised!

Done from Oak Park  

Posted: June 27th, 2013 8:32 AM

Shop where? For a burial plot and a plant?

James from RF  

Posted: June 27th, 2013 6:27 AM

Transparency is your name Ms. Aducci? Who is on the "new Economic development committee" when you were running you said you would open up about this. Why is this not known so we can have hearings and get others involved. You are running this as if you do not want the taxpayers to know until it is done. What is up?

Cdonovan2  

Posted: June 26th, 2013 2:17 PM

Here is a segue for River Forest to enter into the discussion about increasing the number of lanes on the Ike. IDOT has released preliminary information about the next stage of improving transportation on the Eisenhower Expressway, which could include using the obsolete CSX tracks. If the CSX tracks are removed then the CN RR tracks beginning north of Madison become obsolete. If removed then that railbed could be included in the plans for the Hines/Public Works site; bike path anyone?

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