Alexian Field old hat for new GM

General Manager John Dittrich is optimistic about new baseball teams he's helping start for stadiums in Schaumburg and Joliet, even though they're replacing teams that became associated with financial hardship.

That's because of both the personal financial resources of businessman Alan Oremus, the owner of both teams, as well as the ability of their new staffs, Dittrich said.

“One of the reasons (Oremus) feels he can get this done here is that he doesn't have to borrow any money,” Dittrich said. “Most of these places were leveraged before.”

While the new Joliet Slammers will play their first season at Silver Cross Field this summer — replacing the now defunct Jackhammers — a Schaumburg team is being prepared to take over from the evicted Flyers at Alexian Field in 2012.

Schaumburg officials expect to approve an agreement with Oremus Tuesday that will create a 90-day window to negotiate a long-term lease.

Alexian Field is co-owned by the village of Schaumburg and Schaumburg Park District, both of which must approve any lease agreement.

For Dittrich, the move into Alexian Field will be a homecoming. He was the original general manager of the Flyers when the team began playing in 1999. Oremus was a minor investor in the Flyers team that has remained principally owned by Rich Ehrenreich.

Dittrich is viewing his return to Alexian Field with excitement.

“When that ballpark was built, it was one of the finest stadiums in independent baseball, and it still is,” he said. “It's just a beautiful ballpark to look at. It looks like a major league ballpark. It has everything that anyone in my business would want in a ballpark.”

Though the details of the lease have yet to be worked out, Schaumburg Village Manager Ken Fritz said a 10-year lease with an option for two 5-year extensions is what's currently being contemplated.

The first year of the lease will include the 2011 season, when the new team won't even play.

Dittrich said it made sense for his organization to have control of the stadium during the yearlong marketing campaign for the new team. Other baseball-related and community events will be booked at Alexian Field this summer and it's possible upgrades to the facility will be done.

One of the first steps in the marketing campaign will be a contest to name the new team, Dittrich said. This will likely be started in May or June with the winning name to be announced in late July or early August, he said.

Alexian Field's construction debt will be paid off in 2013. Though the village's part-ownership of the stadium has been an issue in the current mayoral race between incumbent Al Larson and challenger Brian Costin, Dittrich said he hasn't seen much interest in private ownership of such ballparks.

“Even if it were to be put on the market, I don't see where there's a market for it,” Dittrich said.

Oremus could not be reached for comment Monday.

John Dittrich
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