JOLIET – The Joliet Slammers said they’re worried their old scoreboard won’t work on opening day, but the City Council is torn over whether it should spend $361,000 for a new one.
Not just a scoreboard, the board includes a video screen used for advertising, displaying images at concerts and playing movies on Friday nights.
The city owns Silver Cross Field and agreed in 2012 to buy a new video board to replace the one that was built with the stadium. Silver Cross Field was built in 2002.
The matter will be on the council agenda for a vote on Tuesday.
The existing board is “not only obsolete. It’s two years beyond its life span,” Slammers CEO Josh Schaub told the City Council at its workshop meeting Monday. “If we turn this thing on in the spring and it does not turn on, it will literally be weeks before we can use it.”
Schaub said other minor league teams in Schaumburg and Crestwood are getting new boards. And, those boards are bigger and better than the ones the Slammers want the city to buy.
City Council members said they understood the need for a new video board. But the city has other needs that may be more pressing.
Plus, the city only budgeted $150,000 this year for a board, planning to buy it on a two-year installment plan. Staff now recommends buying it with one payment, instead of financing and paying interest.
Councilman John Gerl, however, said interest rates are low. He wanted staff to present a two-year payment plan at the Tuesday meeting.
Gerl said he understood the need for a modern video board, noting they are becoming a bigger part of the baseball experience. Also, he suggested the team and Joliet would not look very good without a working scoreboard at Silver Cross Field.
“You go to any Pinto game, any Little League game – they have a functioning scoreboard,” Gerl said. “I’m concerned that if we don’t have a functioning scoreboard on opening day, that says something about who we are and who the team is.”
Opening day is May 19.
Councilmen Bob O’Dekirk and Jim McFarland questioned whether the city should buy a video board, pointing to the possibilities that the state may take away revenue.
“We always have competing demands for our money,” City Manager Jim Hock said. But Hock noted that the city made an agreement to provide a new video board. “The existing video board is on its last legs. It’s been extended a couple of years beyond its traditional life now.”