The Minneapolis-based business group negotiating to buy the Joliet Slammers told the Joliet City Council Monday that their goal is to make Silver Cross Field a family-centered food and entertainment destination.
That means bringing people to the minor league park early with all-you-can-eat deals and other lures; coming up with a concessions menu that's cheaper and more Joliet-centric; scheduling concerts, soccer, lacrosse and other events when baseball's not being played; and keeping the team in the public eye in the off-season, group spokesman Josh Schaub said.
But they won't be reinventing the wheel. The Slammers name and logo will remain, and the team will continue to be part of the Frontier League, said Schaub, a sports law attorney based in Minneapolis, an associate scout for the Milwaukee Brewers and prospective team co-owner.
"We are going to be doing things differently (than the previous owners) to take advantage of the some of the missed opportunities," he said.
For example, there will be greater involvement in the community, including a partnership with the Miracle League of Joliet, and more emphasis on group ticket sales and incentives to buy package deals, Schaub said.
"If we can get our (patrons) to pay one price to come be entertained for the night, that's our goal," Schaub said. "We don't want people to have to keep opening their wallet."
One of the first people they will hire is a special events promoter, and the sales team will be double the size currently employed by owner Alan Oremus, he said.
After hearing the presentation from Schaub and co-owner/partner Tom Gump, the city council met in closed session and gave its tentative blessing to a five-year lease agreement with the buyers for Silver Cross Field, City Manager Tom Thanas said.
No specific details of that deal will be released until just before the Oct. 15 council meeting at which the still-being-written lease is to be approved.
However, Thanas did say the lease amount will be less than the $150,000 currently being paid by Oremus and that the city will share in any profits made by special, non-Slammers baseball events held at the downtown stadium.
The goal is to get the attendance number back to where it was in 2007 -- before the economic recession hit -- when the then-Joliet JackHammers were averaging just under 3,800 per game, Thanas said. This past season, average game attendance was closer to 1,700.
There will be triggers built into the lease so that when ticket sales reach a certain number, the amount paid to the city will increase, Thanas said.
As for the potential owners, Schaub would not disclose their identities -- other than himself and Gump -- until the purchase agreement is finalized.