Prospective new Slammers owners, Joliet move closer to a baseball deal
By bob Okon email@example.com September 25, 2012 6:27PM
The Slammers have put so much money into fixing, cleaning and equipping Silver Cross Field since taking over the stadium lease in December that the team has earned credits that exceed the city's annual $150,000 rent. File photo | Sun-Times Media
Updated: October 27, 2012 6:19AM
JOLIET — A deal to bring in new owners of the Joliet Slammers with reduced rent at Silver Cross Field could go to the Joliet City Council for review Monday.
City Manager Thomas Thanas said Tuesday that the city and prospective owners are negotiating on a deal that mainly focuses on what the team would pay for rent.
The prospective owners have not been identified. But Thanas has previously said that the group does not include any local investors from Joliet or Will County.
The city does not own the team. But it owns Silver Cross Field, the stadium where the Slammers pay. A sale of the team by current owner Alan Oremus mainly involves a transfer of the lease, which the city must approve.
Thanas said that if the negotiations with a prospective buyer are successful, the Joliet City Council Baseball Committee could meet before the 3:30 p.m. city council meeting already scheduled for Monday.
“This all is subject to mayor and council approval,” he said.
Thanas said some rent reduction will be part of the deal, although he would not suggest how much it might be.
Joliet already knocked down the annual rent at Silver Cross Field to $150,000 for the Slammers when Oremus took over the team after the 2010 season.
While Joliet would drop rent again, Thanas said the deal would be structured for the city to collect more revenue “if the team is successful.”
Another issue is making sure the city collects enough rent to cover stadium maintenance so tax dollars and other revenue now funding public services are not used to support a baseball team.
Despite the financial challenges faced in recent years by the two baseball teams, Thanas said the city was contacted by a half-dozen different prospective buyers showing interest once the Slammers decided to sell.
The city is negotiating with a buying group that has made a tentative deal with Oremus. But Thanas said two other groups are “waiting in the wings” if the negotiations break down.
Mayor Thomas Giarrante said the city can cover maintenance costs at Silver Cross Field while reducing rent but it depends.
“It depends on how much it is reduced,” he said. “I think we can if it’s not reduced that much.”
Giarrante said he’s mainly hearing from baseball fans who want some kind of deal worked out.
“The only question I’m getting is, ‘Are we going to have baseball next year?’” the mayor said. “I’m 99.9 percent sure that we’re going to have baseball next year.”
The Joliet team is an independent franchise, meaning it has no affiliation with any major league teams. The Slammers are part of the Frontier League.