With no ballpark, no league, no front office and no sales force, the Lake County Fielders made it official: no 2012 season for the team.
It’s not exactly a shocker, but the Fielders decided to go ahead and issue a press statement today confirming the team is on hiatus for the coming season:
“With no existing stadium in Zion, we will not be participating in any formal baseball league play this upcoming season,” according to the statement. “Every league has minimum stadium standards that must be met prior to participating in league play — generally, at least 3,000 permanent fixed seats with a capacity of at least 5,000, locker rooms, plumbing and electrical infrastructure, concession stands, etc. League stadium standards are required for many reasons, ranging from the fans’ experience at each game, to the ballclub’s ability to earn a profit and sustain operations.
“Regrettably, the city still hasn’t commenced stadium construction, so the Fielders simply have no choice but to suspend plans for a 2012 league season, and look to 2013 and beyond.”
The Fielders and the city of Zion are embroiled in dueling lawsuits over the ballpark. The Fielders’ parent company, Grand Slam Sports and Entertainment, file a lawsuit seeking $10.7 million in damages, alleging the city misled owner Richard Ehrenreich and crew into their true intentions for a new ballpark: the city never intended to build a permanent ballpark and instead forced the team into playing the 2011 season at a temporary facility, leading to financial losses suffered by the franchise. Those financial losses manifested into the team missing payroll and subsequently withdrawing from the final road series of the year. The city’s response: that under the terms of its lease it had until June 30, 2013 season to provide a new facility, which it doesn’t now need to provide because the Fielders stopped paying rent on the temporary ballpark. Zion is seeking that back rent for 2010 and 2011 — some $350,000 — as well as unpaid real-estate taxes ($101,809) and $23,993 to cover damage to ballpark. The total: $475,802.
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