Like Monty Python’s Black Knight, the Lake County Fielders don’t know when to quit, as a lawyer for the team says they’re ready to come back and set up shop in a new Zion ballpark.
As you’ll recall, the Fielders collapsed in a sea of debt, litigation and broken dreams, forced out of their offices and their temporary ballpark dismantled. Today, the former ballpark site is nothing but an empty lot choked with weeds and debris. In nearby Kenosha — some 10 miles away — the summer-collegiate Northwoods League is setting up shop in a renovated Simmons Field in 2014, but that’s not stopping Rich Ehrenreich from raising the possibility of the city funding a new, more modest ballpark. Heck, the Fielders never technically filed bankruptcy, says attorney Stephen Boulton; they could have a new team on the field in 60 days. Whether or not Kevin Costner is part of that effort is unknown.
We’re guessing the lawsuits will prevent that. There have been reports of successful civil lawsuits filed against the Fielders over things like back pay, but the big piece of litigation comes from Ehrenreich: a $10.7 million civil suit that claims city officials mislead him into placing a team in Zion under heavy debt. From the Chicago Sun-Times:
The minor league baseball team, including owner Rich Ehrenreich, has included “civil conspiracy” counts in the team’s $10.7 million lawsuit against the City of Zion, as well as Harrison, its former economic development director Delaine Rogers, and developer Richard Delisle.
The suit contends Harrison, Rogers and Delisle conspired to keep the team in the dark about the heavy debt on the new ballpark site — a more than $7 million mortgage — and that the three also conspired to defraud the team and provide potential profit to companies tied to Delisle.
The lawsuit claims they engaged in “fraudulent misrepresentation, material omissions, bribery, and intentional misuse of public services and public resources.” It also says the three entered the city into a 25-year lease agreement aimed at helping Delisle and his partners refinance that mortgage to avoid foreclosure.
As of now, the Fielders don’t have a ballpark nor a league — the North American League is defunct, although there is a revival of the independent Northern League (the Fielders’ original home) underway, with two teams in the lineup.
RELATED STORIES: Fielders launch shocker: No 2012 season on tap; Zion files suit against Fielders for $500K in back rent, more; PA announcer prevails in Fielders lawsuit; Fielders expand lawsuit, allege conspiracy; Illinois to Zion: Exactly where did the ballpark money go?; 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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