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Another year without a 4th of July

31 March 2011 RS 37 Comments

The city paid $711,000 for a softball team, and has no money for fireworks The city paid $711,000 for a softball team, and has no money for fireworks (Photo by The Elginite).

This will be another year without Independence Day fireworks, according to the latest update from the Elgin Jaycees who are trying to raise enough money to bring back the July 4th fireworks show. The City of Elgin has not put on a fireworks show since the year 2008, citing budget problems.

If the Jaycees can raise $35,000, a July 4th fireworks show in 2012 would be a possibility. Because the bid process takes a year, it is too late even if they had all the money now to put on a show this year. All the money raised will go towards Independence Day celebrations for 2012. The Jaycees have a website where online donations are accepted.

The City’s inability to host a traditional American celebration of Independence Day has led to grumbling among residents, some of whom question the City’s priorities. One of the questions posed by the audience at a recent LWV-hosted forum for mayoral candidates was, “How do justify spending $711,000 for the Bandits softball team when the City does not even have the money to pay for a traditional July 4th fireworks celebration?”

Elgin Mayor Ed Schock, who is in a tough reelection bid, called the question a “cheap shot,” and then proceeded to justify spending $711,000 on the Bandits softball team saying that it was a great investment that’s paying dividends for the city of Elgin.

In late 2007, the mayor and city council agreed to pay $350,000 to make improvements to the softball field at Judson University so that the Chicago Bandits softball team could play there for three years. The plan was that the Bandits would play there first and then move to a new 4,400 seat softball stadium that the City would build for them on McLean Boulevard. Mr. Schock has long sought such a stadium.

By May of 2008, which incidentally was the last year there were fireworks in Elgin, the City subsidy given to the bandits doubled to $711,000. And several months after that, the Bandits became embroiled in a scandal at City Hall. The scandal led to the resignation of a city councilman, who then committed suicide a year later. The Bandits remained in Elgin until 2010, in accordance with their agreement with the City of Elgin, but attendance was poor.

The apparent failure of City Hall’s softball adventure has not deterred Mr. Schock, it seems, from pursuing his vision of Elgin as a regional sports center. At candidate forums, he continues to push the idea that it would be good for Elgin. There is no indication, however, that the City has done any cost-benefit analysis to determine if its capital outlays would generate sufficient economic activity to make it worthwhile.

The subject of public financing for sports stadiums has been studied extensively and the conclusions are dim. One such study, that of the Brookings Institution concludes that:

A new sports facility has an extremely small (perhaps even negative) effect on overall economic activity and employment. No recent facility appears to have earned anything approaching a reasonable return on investment. No recent facility has been self-financing in terms of its impact on net tax revenues. Regardless of whether the unit of analysis is a local neighborhood, a city, or an entire metropolitan area, the economic benefits of sports facilities are de minimus. (source: Brookings Institute)

A 2008 study by Humphreys and Coates said such expenditures reduced real income in the local area:

Interestingly, Humphreys and I found that the overall sports environment—which, as mentioned earlier, includes the presence of franchises in multiple sports, the arrival or departure of teams, and stadium construction—in a given area reduced per capita personal income by about $10. In other words, every man, woman, and child in the metropolitan area was poorer by $10 as a result of the sports environment. (The American 4/2008)

From an economic perspective, the rationale for a stadium and a sports team seems questionable at best.

So when the City does spend money on sports and recreation, including fireworks shows, it might have to be on the basis of whether it’s a public good. Fireworks, for example, cost money with no expectation of bringing in any extra tax revenue or having an economic impact, but cities across American have done it forever. They’ve done that because people consider the cost reasonable and think its worthwhile to celebrate the nation’s birth the way it’s been done for generations.

Which perhaps may be the reason that so many people in Elgin are saddened that an important community ritual and celebration was considered by the mayor and city council to be of secondary importance to having an out-of-town softball team play in the city for three years.

The Elgin Jaycees are trying to raise $35,000 to bring back the July 4th fireworks show. City Hall spent $711,000 to host the Chicago Bandits in Elgin for three years. It’s not lost on residents, many of whom will be voting in the upcoming election, that that money could have paid for 20 years of fireworks.

The 2011 Consolidated Election is on April 5th. Voters will pick Elgin’s new mayor and city council lineup, as well as board members for U-46, Elgin Community College and Gail Borden Public Library. Early voting continues through March 31st.

Dave Kaptain: Candidate for Mayor
City Council Candidate Profiles
Mayor Ed Schock sees no conflicts of interest
Mayor neglected basic infrastructure
Businesses fund mayor’s election campaign
Ed Schock increased mayor’s pay 8-fold
Ed Schock blamed for U-46 lawsuit
Schock denies responsibility for U-46 lawsuit
Daily Herald Schock endorsement draws heat
Another year without a 4th of July
Lawsuit puts liquor commission in spotlight

If you have not already done so please take a moment to vote in our poll for mayor and city council. The poll is in the sidebar. –>

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37 Responses to “Another year without a 4th of July”

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  1. One Vote says:

    Schock is living in his own world here. Whenever he’s asked about the Bandits at forums, he continues to hold to the foolish notion that they paid their way through all the extra business they brought to Elgin in three years.
    Prove it, Ed!
    Just once I’d like to hear that man say he made a mistake.

  2. terrygavin says:

    Schock ever admitting a mistake is wishful thinking One Vote. He never makes a mistake don’t you know. This is just like the Elgin Centre that would support itself once built. He made that statement in 1998 without any hard evidence or proof, now 10 years later we know the truth. The Bandit’s fiasco is more of the same nonsense & he wants to double down with a whole new sports stadium. Schock doesn’t believe in cost benefit analysis he just wants it. Typical U-46 management thinking of “build it & they will come”.
    While serving on the council in the mid 90’s I constantly spoke out about doing the cost-benefit analysis on the Center project as well as putting the question on a referendum to the voters as to whether or not to build any major recreational projects with our money. That council defeated Schock’s Rec. Ctr. project on a 3-3 vote.
    These are just more reasons that Councilman Kaptain needs to be our next mayor, he’ll listen to the public not just bully his majority to do his biddings.

    • Truth in Elgin says:

      Why is there no accountability? He and the chamber (Mr. Bear) just ramroded the business tax thru to the tune of $700,000 and giving $500K to the Chamber and $200K to the Downtown Neighborhood Assoc. without accountability. Has the Chamber done anything to bring business here and they’re being given money why? What has the Downtown group done and downtown businesses are exempt. Why? The businesses that were here have left, or are leaving. No one anywhere is held accountable, yet they keep getting money. Why?

  3. David Reinert says:

    The only mistakes I can see here is you guys over analyzing some negative issues you cherry picked out of hundreds of good things experienced by the citizens while Schock was mayor. You’re what I consider one issue citizens. Everyone has their own pet project. The southeast and southwest neitghbors big issues is Rt. 20. White has a problem with Hispanics. The recreation center was a mistake. The Bandits failed to turn into a major league softball team. The downtown development was wrong. The list goes on and on. Schock, Kaptain and the whole city council all had a part in these things. To blame one individual is ludicrous. The same kind of thinking went one inWashiington over the Iraq war. The Dems blame Bush. Yet only 6 out of the 50 states had two senators vote against the war. Seventy-three voted in favor. How quick we forget when it supports our own position. Schock has done three times as many good things as questionable ones. Kaptain don’t have any magic wand. At best, he will stay the status quo. Changing for the sake of change don’t make any sense. Re-elect the current incumbents and Anna Moeller and move foward with greater vigor.

    • One Vote says:

      You listed half a dozen of our “one issue” problems with city leadership. That’s sort of an oxymoron don’t you think?
      Kaptain hass no magic wand to be sure, but he’s the other guy on the ballot.
      Kaptain has two strong points here:
      1) He will listen to ANYBODY.
      2) He will change the culture on the council and foster a little open dialogue with other council members.

      • David Reinert says:

        That is only an opinion. It is not a fact. Facts can be verified. Onpinions cannot. A person can’t draw a conclusion based on an opinion. Read any business communication text for understanding the difference. Although you’re most likely smarter than the text book written by men and women with PhD in communications. Got ya!

        • Paul says:

          “That is only an opinion. It is not a fact. ”

          But it may very well be factually based opinion!

          “Facts can be verified. Onpinions cannot. ”

          I can verify the FACT that was one vote’s opinion which contained factually based content.

          “A person can’t draw a conclusion based on an opinion. ”

          You draw conclusions all day every day based on opinion. That’s a fact.

        • Truth in Elgin says:

          DR We’ve heard a lot of facts over the last month. You just having been paying attention. Probably been too busy doing your spin for your good friend, and trying to do damage control which I know you’re good at but we can all read, and have really been listening to everything.

          Thank god for the Elginite.

          • David Reinert says:

            Yes ideed, thank God for the Elginite. It continue to expose the wicked side of the of the citizens who cause all of the problems because they fail to seperate fact from opinion. I have yet to read a post on this board in the last two months that amounts to anything but bs. You guys are masters at that. I have talked too many Elgin residents that concur with me on that. You’re not fooling anyone. You continue to play your games with one another. Elgin is fortunate none of you are running for election. Of course, that takes guts, an attribute none of you have ever possessed. Go tell your bs to someone who will buy into your crazy agenda. This country is full of people like you; that is why the country is split 50/50.

    • Truth in Elgin says:

      Because Schock controlled what has been happening for too long. You know 4-3.

      Why is there no accountability? He and the Chamber (Nelson/Bear)) just ramroded the business tax thru to the tune of $700,000 and giving $500K to the Chamber and $200K to the Downtown Neighborhood Assoc. without accountability. Has the Chamber done anything to bring business here and they’re being given money why? What has the Downtown group done and downtown businesses are exempt. Why? The businesses that were here have left, or are leaving. No one anywhere is held accountable, yet they keep getting money. Why?

      • Common Sense Clarence Hayward says:


        Can’t you get your point across without saying BS? The mayor leading his informal four to consider hiring Futterman law firm in 2004 is a fact. Another fact is with last election and this one they have all been voted out of office. Another fact is this law suit has cost the taxpayers 8.6 million dollars and the trial is not over with. Another fact is in Rockford years earlier Futterman cost them 250 million dollars before all was said and done.

        Those are all facts.

    • An Educated American says:

      I like how you relate this to George W and the Iraq War. Sure, most of the states voted to support the war, but they were given misleading information at the time, which stated Iraq was full of WMD’s and possibly even nukes. George W, as president, is also the Commander in Chief, making his responsible for the intelligence and reasoning used to declare War. If that’s the similarity you’re using to support your “facts” position, it’s no wonder you’re leaning on the Right and support a guy with personal interests that outweigh the common good.

    • mm says:

      OK, out with the old and in with the new! The new received my vote and I am hopeful that I won’t be disappointed. By the way, I would like to live in a community in the United States where I pay BIG BUCKS in taxes that if people want to live here, I respectfully request they learn our language and be proud to be American and speak English as all our forfather’s did when they relocated to the United State. Please do not move here if you want to change our way of life. I believe all need to speak English here, the language of the United States. I am offended that people don’t conform to the the American way of life.

  4. Common Sense Clarence Hayward says:

    Mayor elect Rahm Emmanuel in Chicago knows what to do regarding stadiums. He told Rickets to pay for his improvements to Wrigley Field himself.

    • Truth in Elgin says:

      That’s cause he has big balls. Schock has none. He takes direction well from the money backing him.

  5. David Reinert says:

    FACT…The problem with the Elginite and the other elgin board is they don’t have a large enough following to make a difference. The same people post day after day. If a new reader checks the blogs they read one or two. If they were moved from what the read they would post a return blog. The move on to other sources of information. Maybe in a few years more people will gain an interest. Facebook, My space and Twitter have all of the play. The individuals using these sources don’t have time for the content posted on the Elginite. It is similar to many small community boards. If a person could get something that would excite them emotionally they would spend more time here. The blogs on here just don’t do the trick. The Elginite is kind of like Elgin. People realize it remains the status quo. It dose give the candidates free advertisement. It tells what what is going on in Elgin’s event activity. It seems to give a half dozen people a chance to vent, for what that means. Not one person in my large family has ever visited the Elginite. I doubt if they even know it exist. I do commend they staff for making a board such as this possible for people to vent. As far as a capaign vehicle it is at best; mediocre. It might generate a few votes. All sources have a way of doing that.

    • RS says:

      Well we are not as large as the print newspapers, but we have served about 35,000 page views this month. According to the latest site statistics measured directly by Quantcast, we reach 4,432 people monthly.


      • Common Sense Clarence Hayward says:

        I hate to see the elginite shut down. I wish you would reconsider and stay. Thanks for the free speech we had on this sight.

        I have been Schocked enough.

        We need Kaptain to lead us forward as Mayor as well as Mike Curtain, Mike Robins, and Toby Shaw for Elgin City Councilman.

        • Alan says:

          Common Sense (?) Clarence, do you own a calendar?

          And who are you voting for again? I’ve only seen it posted 20 times so I am not sure.

          • David Reinert says:

            I believe he said he is voting for Schock, Warren, steffenn and Moeller. Ha Ha..April fool CH.

      • David Reinert says:

        RS a lot of those views are the same people. I visit the site at least 15 to 20 times per day. Facebook, Myspace and Twitter are in the millions. A lot of people will look for a particular event going on in the area but pay little attention to the blogs. One only has to follow the site for a week to see that the same people post blogs. A lot of people post event innformation. The site offers a great service tto the community. I don’t see any candidate’s advertising on the Elginite. It is kind of like yard signs. I see hundreds of them around but pay little attention who they belong to or what office they are seeking. In Chicago the mayor elect spent $11 million on TV advertisement. He only got 355 thousand votes. That is not a good ROI. I’m just pointing out that these guys who post everyday are just posting to one another. This includes myself. If you’re satisfied with the numbers that all that counts. I bet your competition would like those kind of results. Keep up the good work.

  6. Coltsrecre8 says:

    A fact lost on this board is the City had to move the location of the fireworks once construction of the Highland golf course’s back/front nine was underway. Once the fireworks are on site, you need to have a safe zone and they weren’t going to close the course on a busy holiday weekend. The problem they kept running into is there is a state law that fireworks can’t be launched within 1500 ft of a hosptial which kept most locations at ECC and the Sports Complex out.

    • Mr. Veracity says:

      We should do it down at Bluff City Cemetery or Bluff Spring Fen, now that the salvage yard is going away, Mayor Schock already has new ideas on turning that into a ’sports’ destination for Parks and Rec. Just look at the Park Master Plan on the City Website.


  7. Coltsrecre8 says:

    And the phote is a picture of Judson;s baseball field, the money and only a portion of the supposed 700,000 is on the softball field

  8. ALadiesOpinion says:

    After reading the article I felt strongly the writer needs to rethink HIS priorities. I understand longing for tradition but as a citizen of Elgin I would much rather have about a 100 things (parks, festivals, bike paths, good city services) before a fireworks celebration. I have been happy to see the city make some tough choices. The Bandits money may not be working but at least it has the possiblity of making some money back for the city. Fireworks are just a waste in this economy. While I of course don’t agree with every choice the city has made, this issue just isn’t anywhere near the top of my list.

    • Paul says:

      Gee, lady. After reading your opinion I wonder if you read AND comrpehended the article!
      “The Bandits money may not be working but at least it has the possiblity of making some money back for the city. ”

      The Bandits have left town. A council member is dead most certainly due in part to his association with the Bandits. I doubt the city made $5k back.
      We could spend all day here discussing what might constitute worthy City expenditures but I’ll bet large if YOU took a poll of Elgin residents the $700K wasted on the Bandits would be accorded an overwhelmingly crushing negative. Who’s priorites are out of whack?

      • westside says:

        I can only speak about our situation but growing up, and now in adulthood, when the fireworks were run and provided a good show (in my opinion pre-2002) we always had 4th of July parties. These parties brought people from other areas to our city. While here they would stop at local stores to pick up things for the party, some went to local eateries to grab a bite if they were here early since the grilling did not begin to later, some would stop by the boat, etc. While we keep saying that it only costs $35k, we always forget the sunk ancillary costs such as police, park staff, and clean up. Although, I think that the total amount is offset by the marketing of the city and exposure it can give to out of town residents. No matter what the other failed expenditures cost, I still hope Elgin will bring back a celebration.

        • mm says:

          I thought the fireworkd were so lame in Elgin. A total waste of money! Why bother? Itasca has the most awesome fireworks in the northwest suburbs. That is really too bad… One would think Elgin could do so much better!

  9. David Reinert says:

    Another fair weather guy. If the Bandits had made money he would be on a front page story telling us what a great move it was to bring the Bandits to Elgin. Guys like him are a dime a dozen. Always second guessing. I bet he would never put himself up for election for any office, including dog catcher. Young lady you are entitled to your opinion without the pit bull jumping all over you. This board is for people to express themselves. He has been around long enough to know that and should keep his big mouth shut. I will tell him for you. Paul,shut the h..l up. Who appointed you God?

  10. David Reinert says:

    Thanks for you service to the area. We will miss you.

    • Common Sense Clarence Hayward says:


      If you are buying the fact that RS is calling it quits the mere fact that your response was posted on April 2 leads me to believe that RS pulled a believable April Fool’s joke.

      I bought into it enough to email RS on April 1 early in the morning and I was begging him not to shut down. Then when I got to work and was preparing an April Fool prank myself I realized that it was an April Fool’s prank most likely.

      With your in depth analysis of all issues I am surprised you did not read his good bye one more time and figure out the mere fact that you were allowed to post on April 2 makes you an April Fool as well as me.

      Who would have imagined that Dave Reinert and Common Sense Clarence Hayward had something in common?

      Who is your favorite baseball team?

  11. David Reinert says:

    I hope your right, CH…Cubs

    • Common Sense Clarence Hayward says:

      Now we have two things in common. I am a Cubs fan as well.

  12. Yep ! says:

    Hows about our .. lost Spring Cleanup.. Supposedly paid-for by the communications tax on our phone bills every month .. any merit to that.. ??

  13. Mike says:

    Why ask where the money went to you will never get an honest answer.

  14. westside says:

    Just a note. The image is of the Judson baseball field and not the softball field where the Bandits played. The softball field is directly east of the baseball field, on the river.