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Zion official: Bottom line, Fielders didn't pay bills

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Lake County Fielders

In response to a lawsuit filed by the Lake County Fielders (independent; North American League), a Zion official says it's simple why the team didn't get a new ballpark: bills went unpaid.

J. Delaine Rogers, the former economic-development director for the Illinois city, was sued by Grand Slam Sports (parent of the Fielders) along with the city, Mayor Lane Harrison and a local developer, because no new ballpark was built for the team in 2011, despite press releases from the team quoting city officials about plans for a pop-up ballpark and a letter saying the city would borrow $7.5 million toward the project. The lawsuit argues the team would never have gone ahead with a generally disastrous 2011 season if owners had known a new ballpark was not in the works. And indeed, there were some signs of early construction on the ballpark.

But the money was never borrowed and the ballpark never built. In a statement to the Chicago Daily Herald, Rogers says the reasoning behind the decision was simple -- the Fielders didn't pay their bills:

“If Richard Ehrenreich had paid his vendors, employees and rent in Schaumburg, the Flyers would still have a stadium to call home,” Rogers said. “If he had paid his vendors, employees and rent in Zion, the Fielders would have one, too.”

Alluding both to Rich Ehrenreich's former team -- the Schaumburg Flyers (independent; Northern League), evicted from Alexian Field for lack of payment on team rent -- and the $340,000 owed in back rent in Zion, Rogers makes it pretty clear the city's legal defense will be that there was no obligation to move forward with the project once the Fielders violated the terms of the lease, and even if there was an obligation, there was no obligation to build a ballpark in 2011 -- the lease gave the city three years to place the team in a temporary ballpark.

The team is effectively on hiatus, according to the lawsuit.

RELATED STORIES: Ehrenreich suing Zion, potential Schaumburg buyers; Zion, Fielders headed to court?; Nine players, 125 fans in Zion; NAL season ending early; It's Fielders vs. Fielders in Lake County; Fielders: We're still in NAL -- for now; Fielders tossed from North American League; Fielders skip on Hawaii road trip; season in question; Fielders game scrapped because of sub-par baseballs; Fielders may disband because of city inaction on new ballpark; Zion: Fielders owe us $185,000 in back rent; Fielders' Zaman quits on the air; Fielders continue blame game for financial woes, adding league to mix; Fielders: Don't blame us, blame Zion; Unpaid players revolt in Lake County; 9 traded, 14 released

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