The Chicago Bandits professional women's softball team will showcase its new home at Rosemont Stadium with a preseason exhibition game Saturday against the Bloomington Lady Hearts.
Rosemont built the roughly $6 million, 2,000-seat facility to lure the Bandits away from Elgin, where attendance was dwindling.
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Rosemont already is home to the DePaul Blue Demons men's college basketball team, the Chicago Wolves hockey team, the WNBA's Chicago Sky and the Chicago Rush arena football team, all of which play at the Allstate Arena.
The Bandits' stadium is located at 27 Jennie Finch Way -- named in honor of the retired Bandits pitcher -- on the northeast corner of Bryn Mawr Avenue and Pearl Street, west of the Tri-State Tollway.
"We're excited about hosting the Bandits and giving fans a new home to enjoy their games this summer," Mayor Bradley Stephens said. "It's a first-class stadium."
Fans will be allowed to play catch on the outfield from 6:30 p.m. to 6:45 p.m. Saturday.
Following that, the Bandits will honor members of the All-America Girl Professional Baseball League from the 1940s and 1950s on the field before the inaugural game begins at 7:35 p.m.
Special guests include league members Joyce Westerman, Ange Armato, Peggy Fenton, Betty Francis, Therese Uselmann, Terry Donahue and Dolly Konwinski.
Fans will be able to get autographs and take pictures with the veteran players who will stay on to watch the game.
Bandits players will be sporting throwback uniforms of the Chicago Colleens, team spokesman Andrew Phillips said.
Saturday's exhibition game is a ticketed event, which includes a meet-and-greet with all the players. There will not be a children's play area, which will be a regular feature at every Saturday game beginning with the season opener on June 16, Phillips said.
Children will be allowed to run the bases Saturday following the exhibition game, and get autographs from players.
"Everything is going to be there for the fans," Phillips said. "Concessions are open, bathrooms are going to be functional, video boards and scoreboards will be up."
The Bandits are eager to experience the stadium since Saturday's game also is the first time the team will be able to practice on its home field, Phillips said.
"It's going to be new for everybody," he said. "The team hasn't even been allowed on the field yet because of the construction. They have been practicing at Oakton Community College in Des Plaines."
Phillips added the quality of Rosemont Stadium is impressive.
"The field at Judson University in Elgin, that worked for us, but it's nothing compared to a stadium like this," he said.
Rosemont Stadium has been built to comply with National Collegiate Athletic Association standards so it can be used for college tournaments and championships. An expansion area will allow for temporary seating if required for certain events, officials said.
"This is the start of a new athletic complex," Stephens said. "We have plans to expand the site to include a youth academy that will focus on sportsmanship, life and leadership skills for boys and girls."
The Bandits, part of the National Pro Fastpitch League, will play 22 home games at Rosemont Stadium. The team's season home opener against the USSA Florida Pride is scheduled June 16, with a grand opening on June 18.
Tickets start at $8 for outfield seats, $10.50 for box seats and $11.50 for club seats. Tickets may be ordered online through the Bandits' website, chicagobandits.com, or by calling (877) 722-6348. A complete home and away schedule is available on the website.