JOLIET – It’s not too early to talk about baseball – even baseball in spring 2017.
That will be the year when the Silver Cross Field name could change – unless the hospital signs another contract to keep its name on the Joliet stadium.
It’s also the year when the Illinois High School Association can move its 3A/4A baseball tournament elsewhere unless the city and Slammers are able to keep it in Joliet.
Both items will be topics at a Joliet City Council Baseball Committee meeting scheduled for 4:30 p.m. Tuesday in the planning conference room at City Hall.
Silver Cross Hospital is considering keeping its name on the ballpark and has talked with the Slammers, hospital spokeswoman Tracy Simons said.
“We met with them, and they haven’t gotten back to us with a proposal,” Simons said.
The Slammers want to keep the Silver Cross name on the stadium, said Nick Semaca, team president and majority owner.
“We love having Silver Cross Hospital as a partner,” Semaca said. “We’re also very interested in renewing the relationship.”
Silver Cross signed a 15-year deal to pay as much as $150,000 a year for naming rights before the 2002 opening season of the then-Joliet JackHammers. The amount paid depends on attendance.
The city, too, has an interest in naming rights because it gets 60 percent of the money.
The city also has an interest in keeping the IHSA tournament in Joliet, since it attracts people and revenue to the city while offering an opportunity to put Silver Cross Field to use for more than Slammers games.
“It’s something I’d like to see stay here,” Mayor Bob O’Dekirk said. “It brings a lot of people to the community.”
The IHSA tournament is not on the agenda. But Baseball Committee Chairman Pat Mudron said he expects it to be discussed.
“I definitely want to hear what [Slammers] management has to say about what we can do to keep it here,” Mudron said.
City staff already have been on the phone with IHSA officials to express Joliet’s interest in keeping the tournament.
The IHSA has not said it is pulling out of Joliet. But it has said it will consider other venues for three state finals, including the Joliet baseball tournament where contracts are expiring after 2016.
“We have enjoyed great experiences at each of these venues, and in these communities, and are by no means looking to leave,” IHSA Executive Director-Elect Craig Anderson said in a statement released after a Monday board meeting.
He added, however, that the IHSA board “felt it was prudent to evaluate each of these host situations and explore any other host interest that may exist.”