JOLIET – The Joliet Slammers’ rent goes down to $25,000 in the coming year from the team’s current rent of $75,000 at the city-owned stadium where they play.
The Joliet City Council on Tuesday approved a one-year lease that starts Oct. 1 with little discussion.
The rent decrease was not mentioned, and the lease was not available for public view.
“We literally finished this agreement with the Slammers this afternoon,” interim City Manager Marty Shanahan told the council.
The council also approved six contracts totaling nearly $955,000 for stadium improvements related to the installation of artificial turf during the off-season. The turf contract itself is slated to come to the council for a vote Sept. 19. The entire project is estimated to cost between $1.6 million and $1.9 million.
Neither Shanahan nor Slammers’ owner Nick Semaca would discuss the reasons for the rent decrease other than to say it was a complicated matter.
“There are a lot of issues we discussed,” Semaca said. “That’s where we wound up on it.”
Semaca said the Slammers had a good year for the business. The team broke 100,000 in attendance for the first time under current ownership, he said.
“We had an 11 percent increase [in attendance] year over year,” Semaca said. “We’re feeling really good about how business is going.”
The council voted, 7-0, for the lease. Councilman John Gerl was not present for the vote on the lease or the stadium contracts, which also were approved unanimously.
The council approved low bids on contracts for excavation, fencing, concrete work, wall padding and landscaping. The outfield walls will be moved to make room for a soccer field as the city and the Slammers, who also manage the stadium, plan to bring more sports and other events to the facility.
Councilman Larry Hug emphasized that the city does not have money in its 2017 budget for the stadium improvements. He said the city will need to dip into reserve funds at the same time it has estimated a $2.6 million decrease in state revenue coming to Joliet.
“I think some people will be curious why we are spending that kind of money,” Hug said.
The city plans to recover its payments for stadium improvements over time through a downtown tax increment financing fund used to spur economic development, Hug said. But it will take 12 to 13 years to recover the money, he said.
STADIUM CONTRACTS APPROVED TUESDAY
• Excavation and site work: $527,741 to Hoppy’s Landscaping
• Fencing: $166,420 to Action Fence Contractor
• Concrete: $143,206 to Austin-Tyler Construction
• Wall padding: $46,827 to Huffcor
• Landscaping: $54,250 to Pedersen Company
• Painting: $16,400 to Cosgrove Construction