The village of Schaumburg and the Schaumburg Flyers agree that a Feb. 24 court date will serve as the deadline for the team to either find a new owner or move out of Alexian Field.
The date was set at a hearing Thursday on the village and Schaumburg Park District's lawsuit against the baseball team for more than $920,000 in overdue rent and other payments at the stadium co-owned by the two local governments.
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Schaumburg Village Manager Ken Fritz said there is no chance for the team to start 2011 season at Alexian Field without the promised sale of the team yielding the overdue money.
"We're not going to go forward and let them play until this is resolved," Fritz said.
Flyers' managing partner Rich Ehrenreich expressed confidence Thursday that he's so close to selling the team that these next five weeks are all that's needed to seal the deal. The team already has released its 2011 schedule, including a May 30 home opener at Alexian Field.
Schaumburg officials have long suggested that the attractiveness of Alexian Field to other potential startup teams makes it very unlikely that there would be no baseball at all there this summer. But Fritz admitted that the time between Feb. 24 and the start of the minor league season in late May would have to be extremely busy to make that happen.
"It's very tight," Fritz said. "It would be a challenge. Whoever came in would know it would be very difficult that first year."
While the village might talk with other potential investors in the coming weeks, no serious negotiation could occur until after Feb. 24, Fritz said. The village and park district still are committed to a sale of the Flyers as the best possible outcome for all, he added.
Joliet City Manager Tom Thanas recently told the Daily Herald that Schaumburg probably is entirely correct about its ability to quickly find another team for Alexian Field. Both Schaumburg and Joliet are strong markets for minor league baseball, and finding a replacement for the bankrupt Joliet Jackhammers at Silver Cross Field was the easiest part of the city's long saga with the financially struggling team, Thanas said.
Ehrenreich, the original owner of the 12-year-old Flyers, has intended to sell the team since the 2009 announcement that he was partnering with "Field of Dreams" star Kevin Costner to start up the Zion-based Lake County Fielders.