The physical changes inside the cavernous former sports complex in Libertyville have been subtle, but its new operator has worked diligently for months to restart the facility and strengthen its presence in the suburbs.
Based in Canada Canlan Sports has made progress since reopening the inactive facility on July 1 as a tenant with an option to purchase the property at the busy corner of Route 45 and Peterson Road.
As the busy indoor sports season approaches, the way things unfold over the next few months will help determine if the company is moving to Libertyville for the long haul.
“It depends on performance and usage,” said Michael Gellard, executive vice president. “The next six months will give us an indication. The building itself we are very impressed with.”
Although Canlan operated for almost four months, company executives were unable to see their investment in person because border restrictions kept them in Canada.
With the travel ban lifted, Gellard and others this week visited suburban operations in Lake Barrington, West Dundee and Romeoville. The Illinois tour included a Thursday stop in Libertyville for a dedication ceremony with village officials, employees and others.
“The village has been extremely supportive of the collaboration. They want it to be successful,” COO Mark Faubert later said. “We hope our brand will gain weight in this market.”
Canlan opened in Lake Barrington in 2015. General manager Tammy Kerr kept an eye on the Libertyville sports complex, which was closed by the village on March 13, 2020, at the start of the pandemic.
“It was a very difficult decision for the board of directors and the community,” said Mayor Donna Johnson.
But there may be a silver lining regarding the facility which has long weighed on the finances of the village. Canlan approached the village and negotiations began. In April, the village council enthusiastically approved a two-year lease with an option to purchase the facility at any time for $ 3.75 million.
A five-month grace period taking into account COVID-19 capacity restrictions and start-up costs was part of the deal. Canlan will start paying $ 20,000 per month in rent on December 1st.
The agreement covers the indoor sports center as well as a baseball field and an ice rink on the property. The 169,000 square foot indoor sports facility includes two full-size indoor soccer fields, several indoor courts, a climbing wall, a fitness area and other features.
The building also includes rooms for third-party tenants. Hot Ground Gym, which operates a children’s gym featuring indoor obstacle courses and team-building events in Arlington Heights, is preparing a space in Libertyville for an opening this fall.
The indoor facility is one of three components of the Libertyville Sports Complex, which opened on 48 acres in 2002. The village borrowed $ 25 million in two bond issues to purchase the land and build the facilities, which included a multi-level golf practice and a mini golf area.
Both have been closed and available for sale. A plan to sell most of the property for the development of two industrial buildings is underway.
In a related case, annual debt payments on the sports complex are expected to increase from $ 1.6 million to $ 900,000 following a debt repayment and restructuring.