The Slammers count 325 events held so far this year as they put the city-owned stadium to more use during its first full season equipped with artificial turf.
Most of what’s happening at DuPage Medical Group Field is more baseball – college baseball, traveling tournaments, softball, youth leagues and more, said John Wilson, Slammers vice president of sales and marketing.
It’s more baseball than the stadium could have handled with natural grass, which would have worn away with multiple games being played on single days. The stadium even is rented in the morning and early afternoons for baseball on Slammers game nights.
“We want to use the stadium as much as we can,” Wilson said. “I can definitely say we’ve used the stadium way more than in the past.”
The 325 events counted by the Slammers includes multiple baseball games in one day played as part of a single tournament.
“Anything that has separate patrons we consider an event,” said Cori Herbert, director of tournaments and special events for the Slammers.
Herbert said he expects to have more than 425 events at the stadium before the year is done.
That includes fall softball, rental of the stadium by a travel baseball organization for practices, and a few nonbaseball events. In September, there will be a wedding, and Cornerstone Services will rent the stadium for an employee appreciation day.
The team, which manages the stadium for the city, does not include Slammers games in its count of events.
The Slammers, meanwhile, have boosted attendance this year, reaching 94,512 as of Tuesday, according to the Frontier League. The team expects to top 100,000 this week.
The team has added some family-friendly touches to the stadium, including a playground for kids and extension of netting to the ends of the dugouts for fan safety.
Joliet installed artificial turf in spring 2018 in a $1.6 million stadium improvement project.
The purpose of the turf was to add more events at a stadium primarily used for Slammer baseball games, although it’s also been home to University of St. Francis baseball and an Illinois High School Association state baseball tournament.
The turf installation project included a reconfiguration of the outfield wall so the stadium could accommodate soccer games. City officials envisioned soccer, lacrosse and other sporting events at the stadium.
One soccer tournament was held in 2018, and no lacrosse games have been played at the stadium. The Slammers are interested in hosting the sports, Wilson said.
“We haven’t had a ton of interest in lacrosse or soccer. The main thing we’ve been seeing is baseball – Little League, AAU tournaments,” Wilson said, going on to list the assorted baseball organizations coming to the stadium. “We have so much of a need for baseball that there’s not a lot of time to book lacrosse or soccer.”
Herbert said he has reached out in attempts to book soccer and lacrosse. While the Slammers can provide a regulation-sized field, the stadium only has room for one.
“Usually in soccer and lacrosse, you need more than one field to have a successful tournament,” he said.
But the Slammers have made headway in developing baseball business.
In May, the Chicagoland Collegiate Athletic Conference held its spring tournament at the Joliet stadium for the first time.
The availability of artificial turf for four straight days was vital in attracting the tournament, Herbert said.
“It absolutely played a role,” he said. “That’s why they had it here.”