Slammers owner says stadium events up 73 percent with artificial turf
18 September 2018
The Joliet Slammers are likely to be playing the Frontier League championship game at the same time the Joliet City Council decides Tuesday whether to renew the team’s lease.
The status of the team’s future at Joliet Route 66 Stadium is uncertain enough for owner Nick Semaca to have been in Joliet making a case for a long-term lease on Monday rather than in Washington, Pennsylvania, where the scheduled championship game was postponed a day because of rain.
Semaca said the Slammers want a five-year lease and presented a case to the City Council’s Stadium Committee and then to the full council on why he thinks the team deserves it.
Focusing on what use the Slammers have made of artificial turf since it was installed in April, Semaca said the number of days the stadium is in use is up by 40 percent and the number of events is up by 73 percent with multiple events being held on certain days.
“The chances are if you stop by the stadium on any given day, there’s probably something going on,” Semaca told the council.
Attendance at Slammers games, however, was down this year, ranking at one time at the bottom of the Frontier League.
“The fans obviously are not going to show up to watch baseball with no other hook,” Stadium Committee Chairman Pat Mudron told Semaca.
The lease expires at the end of September.
The Slammers manage Joliet Route 66 Stadium, which is owned by the city.
As of Monday, the city, and the Slammers still had not reached terms on the length of the lease and rent.
“I think we’re close to resolving something,” Slammers’ attorney Michael Hansen said.
The Slammers this year paid rent of $25,000 in part because they only have a one-year lease, which the city put in place to see what the team was able to do with artificial turf that was installed in the spring at a price of $1.6 million.
Semaca said the team has initiated a strategy of attracting sports tourism to Joliet with events that included youth baseball tournaments and the Prep Baseball Reports, a scouting event for young players.
On Tuesday, Slammers Softball League starts at the stadium while the team also lets in fans for a free watch party with the championship game shown on the video board.
The game starts at 6:05 p.m. The City Council meeting starts at 6:30 p.m.
By the time the game is over, the Slammers should know if they have a lease for next year.