Monday, March 20, 2017

Central Illinois Regional Airport (KBMI) officials to continue talks over expiring soccer fields

BLOOMINGTON – The clock has been ticking for years on land that’s been used for soccer near Central Illinois Regional Airport in Bloomington.

CIRA officials are now under pressure from the Federal Aviation Administration to take back the land citing safety concerns with having large groups of people 500 feet from a runway.

Airport director Carl Olson told WJBC’s Scott Laughlin and Patti Penn the airport is sympathetic to the needs of the local soccer community.

“There’s a good relationship in our community with not only our elected officials but a good working relationship with the FAA,” Olson said. “Everybody is actually quite reasonable and level-headed so there’s good chance to have that conversation to see about some sort of extension.”

The airport already allowed a five-year lease with the Prairie City Soccer League that runs out at the end of the year. Soccer groups have tried unsuccessfully to secure public money for a new soccer complex.

Bloomington mayor Tari Renner said the city’s doesn’t have the capacity to held fund a $16 million recreational complex.

“We’ve got to do something about soccer,” Renner said. “We aren’t going to be able to do $16 million, but that doesn’t mean it all has to be public money.”

Renner added a previous request for Bloomington to raise its sales tax for a new soccer complex was “dead on arrival.” Normal’s tax hike approved in 2015 sets aside up to $1.2 million annually for soccer.

Olson said he is optimistic that all parties involved can come to a reasonable solution.

“I think everyone is going to come together and I think there is going to be a good solution, but I don’t yet know what it is,” Olson said. “I know the (Bloomington-Normal Airport Authority) board is collecting a lot of information. They are going to have more discussion and when the time comes they will make the appropriate decision.”


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