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Local News

Joliet Slammers getting one-year lease for next season

The grass at Slammers Stadium will be replaced with artificial turf during the offseason.
The grass at Slammers Stadium will be replaced with artificial turf during the offseason.

JOLIET – The City Council is slated to vote Tuesday on a one-year lease with the Joliet Slammers for next year.

The lease was kept short so the city could see the effect of artificial turf on stadium events and revenues before locking into a long-term contract, city officials said.

"The turf is an unknown commodity," Interim City Attorney Chris Regis said. "The City Council decided to see how it goes next year, how many events it brings in."

Council member Pat Mudron, chairman of the council's Stadium Committee, said artificial turf could create a number of changes in the lease, including who controls event management.

"You really need to get back to square one here," Mudron said.

The city owns the stadium, and the Slammers manage operations, an arrangement that has been in place since the stadium was built in 2002 and the Joliet JackHammers played there.

But the stadium has been used almost exclusively for baseball. Artificial turf is being installed during the coming offseason primarily to create a more durable surface that can handle more events beyond baseball. The stadium also is being reconfigured to make room for a soccer field when the Slammers are not playing.

Slammers owner Nick Semaca said he understands the city's interest in a one-year lease for now, but he expects a longer lease to be negotiated later.

"We and the Slammers are both committed to working on a longer-term deal," Semaca said. "The city has expressed a desire to see how some of the new events go and adopt some of the learning into the lease."

The current lease ends Sept. 30.

The Slammers are in their last homestand of the season, and the last game is Monday.

Stadium and turf bids

The council also is scheduled to vote Tuesday on six contracts related to the artificial turf installation and stadium design.

The turf contract itself is not on the agenda because staff want to review the bids before presenting them to the council for a vote, Public Works Director James Trizna said.

"We haven't evaluated anything yet (on the turf bids)," Trizna said.

The city received five bids for the turf contract. The turf amounts to about a third of the total cost of the project, which is estimated to total nearly $1.9 million.

Trizna said the project appears to be meeting the $1.9 million estimate based on the bids received.

Contracts going to the council Tuesday include those for excavation, fencing, concrete, wall padding, landscaping and painting.

The outfield wall will be replaced as the stadium is reconfigured.

Trizna said the plan is to bring the turf contract to the council for a vote on Sept. 19.

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