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Loves Park's Aviators Stadium auction may not see bids until final day

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Loves Park's Aviators Stadium auction may not see bids until final day


LOVES PARK — An online auction that could determine the next owner of Aviators Stadium kicked off Wednesday.

The 3,279-seat stadium at 4503 Interstate Blvd. is owned by Northside Community Bank of Gurnee, which foreclosed on the property in 2012 when it was owed about $4.6 million on its mortgage. The sale will not affect the Aviators' upcoming season.

The auction is run by Chicago-based auction firm Rick Levin & Associates Inc. and is held online at ricklevin.comthrough April 2. Interested buyers can tour the facility from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Friday. A few potential buyers have already been through the property multiple times, said Rick Levin, president of the auction firm. He doesn't expect to see any bids until next week.

"Typically, with online auctions even though they go for a week the bidding doesn't really begin until the final day," Levin said.

The opening bid for the property will be $1.5 million. The stadium was completed in 2006 and would cost more than $8 million to construct today, Levin said. He said there have been a few interested buyers, most from out-of-town and out-of-state, but it's difficult to determine how that will translate into bids.

"Sometimes the folks who don't seem very serious are and the folks who do seem serious don't have any money, so it still remains to be seen," Levin said.

He said the naming rights to the stadium are available in the purchase, which could be a great marketing opportunity for the next owner. He hopes the property ends up with a buyer that has "the community's best interest at heart."

Rockford Park District officials will be watching the auction with interest because they hope to partner with the next owner on use of the stadium. Executive Director Tim Dimke sees Aviators Stadium as a potential championship venue for tournaments hosted at Sportscore Two in Loves Park. Sportscore Two is set to get a $30.5 million expansion with new turf fields as part of the district's Reclaiming First sports tourism project.

One snag in the plan is Gov. Bruce Rauner's decision to suspend some state parks grants, including about $2.5 million to help finance the Sportscore Two project. Dimke told Park District commissioners on Tuesday that the district may have a good chance to get its grants restored because they were issued before November 2014.

Kevin Haas

Rockford Register Star

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