As Cubs farm team moves closer, Slammers still look to boost fans
By Bob Okon firstname.lastname@example.org August 21, 2012 9:08PM
Updated: September 23, 2012 6:21AM
JOLIET — Reports that the Cubs plan to move their Class A affiliated team from Peoria to Kane County stirs up an old question in Joliet. Why not bring an affiliated team to Joliet?
In Joliet, the Slammers, and the JackHammers before them, have played independent baseball, which means the teams in their league are not affiliated with any major league club. Many fans think the Joliet team might draw more fans if the players were being groomed for the major leagues.
“I think everyone’s talked about getting affiliated baseball in Joliet since there was baseball in Joliet,” City Manager Thomas Thanas said.
That would be back to 2002, which was the debut season for professional baseball at city-owned Silver Cross Field. Even back then, the word was that Joliet is just too close to the Cubs, White Sox and Kane County Cougars triangle to get an affiliated team.
“We’ve heard that there’s a 40-mile rule that takes in all three teams,” Thanas said.
But the Cubs’ apparent interest in bringing its minor league team closer to home represents a trend in the big leagues. Baseball organizations have been bringing the minor league affiliates closer to the major league city.
Thanas said affiliated baseball probably would bring in more money for the Joliet team. The JackHammers went out of business. The Slammers have yet to draw the attendance they say is needed to turn a profit.
Independent baseball may have to succeed first in Joliet before major league teams show any interest — 40-mile rule or no 40-mile rule. Said Thanas: “We think you need to be able to show good numbers and a success story to be able to pursue affiliated baseball.”