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Illinois to Zion: Exactly where did the ballpark money go?

Lake County FieldersThe State of Illinois is seeking information from Zion about whether money earmarked toward a new Lake County Fielders (independent; North American League) ballpark was properly spent.

It’s yet another turn in the odd ballpark odyssey that saw the Fielders and Zion scrap through most of 2011 over whether a temporary ballpark met the terms of the team’s lease with the city — a spat that will certainly end up in court.

But we have another player in the drama, as the state’s Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity is asking Zion to detail where $1.3 million in state grants were spent and how they created jobs. If the state determines not enough jobs were created, the city could be forced to return the money. It’s also important to note the FIelders are not part of this investigation.

From the Chicago Daily Herald:

“As presented to us in 2009 and 2010, the $1.3 million was intended as the first stage of support for the $15 million project,” said Zion’s former economic development director, J. Delaine Rogers. “Without question, our community, with double-digit unemployment and a large percentage of households at or below median income levels, certainly met the criteria for a jobs-creation grant. In good faith, we moved forward together.”…

Last week, Rogers said at least 80 year-round, full-time jobs and another 150 seasonal positions were created by the Fielders because Zion provided the team a temporary stadium in 2011 and 2010.

Rogers said the job creation included players, coaches, groundskeepers, marketing, clerical, sales and concessions. However, a manager, some players and a radio announcer quit the Fielders amid claims they were not paid all they were owed in 2011.


RELATED STORIES: Zion official: Bottom line, Fielders didn’t pay bills; 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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