JOLIET – The possibility of field turf at Silver Cross Field will get a serious look as the Slammers seek opportunities to make the stadium a sports tourism destination point.
Slammers majority owner Nick Semaca asked the Joliet City Council Baseball Committee to consider field turf as he presented general market numbers about the potential to bring sports such as rugby, lacrosse and football to Silver Cross Field.
A plan for field turf could also help Joliet retain the Illinois High School Association baseball tournament, which is going out for bid in a couple weeks, Semaca said.
“We’ve got a marquee facility,” Semaca told the committee. “You need to do a couple of things. No. 1 is field turf.”
No decisions were made. But Mayor Bob O’Dekirk, who attended the meeting, asked Semaca to bring back cost estimates.
O’Dekirk agreed with Semaca that the stadium would need to be reconfigured to accommodate sports other than baseball.
“We should make a commitment,” O’Dekirk said at the meeting. “If we’re going to do this, we should do it right, so you would use the stadium for more than baseball.”
Silver Cross Field also is in need of basic repairs, Semaca said.
He presented a list of eight areas, ranging from the stadium’s steel infrastructure to deteriorating beer lines that are in need of basic maintenance or replacement.
Councilwoman Jan Quillman agreed that Silver Cross Field needs work and pointed to the carpeting and paint in the stadium suites as one example.
“Some of these things need to be addressed sooner or later,” she said.
Semaca did not have cost estimates or a timeline for repairs, but said he was presenting the list to give the city an idea of projects needed to be done at the stadium.
Naming rights and IHSA
Semaca said he is in talks with representatives from Silver Cross Hospital as to whether they want to retain naming rights at the stadium – a revenue producer for both the Slammers and city. The naming rights contract expires at the end of this year.
“We would love to renew with Silver Cross,” he said. “We had a couple of discussions, and they have indicated an interest. I don’t think an interest is a definite yes, but they want to hear our thoughts.”
Both Semaca and Steve Jones, the city’s deputy city manager and economic development director, said they will push hard to keep the IHSA baseball tournament in Joliet.
“Our goal is to make a real aggressive play,” Jones said, noting more competition for the tournament is expected than when it was first awarded to Joliet.