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August 29, 2003


SPARTA - Governor Rod R. Blagojevich today announced that the Illinois Department of Natural Resources is acquiring 1,179 acres of land in southwest Illinois near Sparta in Randolph County for the proposed World Shooting Complex.


“This piece of property has endless possibilities,” Governor Blagojevich said today in an appearance at the Illinois National Guard Armory in Sparta.  “Acquiring this land and proceeding with development of this facility are the latest steps forward in our efforts to bring visitors to this part of the state and provide a world class outdoor shooting complex for sportsmen.”


The state is acquiring the land from a subsidiary of Peabody Energy, the world’s largest coal company.  IDNR expects to close on the $1.8 million property acquisition next month.  The Department is retaining an architectural firm to develop a master plan for the property.


“This project has great tourism potential and demonstrates my administration’s commitment to economic development and traditional outdoor recreational opportunities in Illinois,” Blagojevich said.


The shooting sports complex is expected to have more than 100 trap stations over a 3.5-mile course, skeet stations, sporting clays, a pistol range and 3-D archery range. The site also will offer traditional outdoor recreation activities such as fishing, hiking and camping.  Development of an expanding camping /parking complex will allow the site to attract major motor home and camping rallies, car shows, conventions and similar activities, attracting thousands of visitors to the area at various times throughout the year. A variety of groups have already expressed interest in using the site, including the National Sporting Clays Association and the National Skeet Shooting Association, which have committed to bring major events to Illinois.


Illinois is one of two states still in the running to attract the Ohio-based Amateur Trapshooting Association and its major shooting event. The ATA is the governing body for the sport of American-style trapshooting and has more than 100,000 members in the U.S., Canada and other countries. The organization is expected to reach a decision by next spring. 


“We believe this facility will be a key facility for shooting sports enthusiasts throughout the Midwest as well as a multipurpose facility that will attract a variety of large-scale events,” said IDNR Director Joel Brunsvold.


“We expect this facility to attract shooting sports enthusiasts and their events from throughout the country,” said Rep. Dan Reitz of Steeleville, who represents the area and is cochair of the Legislative Sportsmen’s Caucus.  “It should be a real boost to the regional economy.”       


The development is expected to be phased in over several years, with much of the funding coming from private investment. The city of Sparta, a key partner in the project, is assisting with sewer and water hook-ups to the property.


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