In what could be the start of a contentious — and litigious — divorce, the city of Zion has demanded $185,000 in back rent from the Lake County Fielders (independent; North American League), but owner Rich Ehrenreich says he doesn’t owe a thing.
The city isn’t moving to kick the Fielders out of Fielders Stadium, and the city is not taking the Fielders to court, but the letter is a warning that past rent will not be ignored. The response from Ehrenreich: the city never delivered the ballpark promised us, so we don’t have to pay anything:
“We’re not going to pay anything until we see something,” he told the Chicago Daily Herald. “We can’t keep throwing money at something if we’re the only ones performing.”
Now, anyone who’s seen the People’s Court knows that this isn’t an adequate defense: the team, after all, did play there last season and made the decision to come back this season. There’s been no action by Ehrenreich to mitigate his damages.
And he may not have a contract on his side, either. The agreement between Zion and the Fielders calls for a permanent structure to be built by June 20, 2013. The current facility is a temporary facility, but it’s not clear the city has been legally obligated to replace it before 2013.
The city says the team owes $60,000 for 2010 rent and $125,000 for 2011 rent. The team did pay $40,000 in 2010, but along the way bounced two rent checks.
The Fielders have certainly been in the news this season. Opening the 201 North American League season with a 32-game road trip, the team quickly encountered financial adversity. As you’ll recall, the Fielders released 14 players and traded nine others after an open player revolt that also saw coaches Tim Johnson and Pete LaCock resign. The issue: lack of any payments (payroll, per diem, travel) whatsoever this season. This comes after an offseason where Ehrenreich and other owners were found to be in default of a lease for Alexian Field in Schaumburg and ordered by a court to pay $551,829 in overdue rent.
RELATED STORIES: 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
Share your news with the baseball community. Send it to us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Subscribers to the weekly Ballpark Digest newsletter see features before they’re posted to the site. You can sign up for a free subscription at the Newsletter Signup Page.