Despite the use of temporary facilities, it cost local taxpayers almost $8 million to build Fielders Stadium for the Lake County Fielders (independent; North American League).
NBC Chicago examined all the costs related to the ballpark, which served as the home to the Fielders for two seasons until the team went under. Currently team owner Rich Ehrenreich and the city are embroiled in a lawsuit about who owes what after the demise of the Fielders: Zion says back rent is owed, and Ehrenreich says the deal as put forward by Zion was crooked from the get-go. Judging by some of the things reported, there’s more than enough culpability to go around:
So what had happened to the stadium that Zion officials had promised to build? NBC Investigates filed a Freedom of Information request with the City of Zion for expenses, payments, and purchases related to the proposed Fielders’ ballpark. We found more than $400 thousand spent on the “temporary” stadium alone; another $3-plus million spent on what was termed “stadium pre-development” and “stadium development,”and another $1 million in wire-transfers that — at least on the documents examined by NBC5 — contain no description of where the money actually went, or to whom.
In addition, NBC5 found large sums paid for the land-lease, for property taxes, for various consultant and attorneys, for new water and sewer lines, for snow-removal — and an additional $1.4 million taken from the city’s water fund — all spent on the ballpark.
To date, NBC5 Investigates has found, the running tab for the stadium — paid by Zion’s taxpayers — has risen to more than $7.8 million, for a stadium that more closely resembles the remnants of a forgotten junkyard.
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