Rosemont adds to crowded suburban sports lineup
Rosemont approved financing Wednesday for about $76 million in big building projects, including its latest venture, a 6,300-seat minor league baseball stadium, expected ready in time for the 2018 season.
The move adds another player to the crowded field of minor league sports franchises in the suburbs. The yet-to-be-named Rosemont team will compete for baseball fans with the nearby Schaumburg Boomers, as well as the Kane County Cougars, DuPage Drones in Lisle, Joliet Slammers and Windy City Thunderbolts in Crestwood.
The investors behind the team were revealed Wednesday as Shawn Hunter and Steven Gluckstern, two corporate sports executives who will lease the village-owned stadium and coordinate non-baseball events.
"We have a pretty exciting group that will put a great product on the field," Mayor Brad Stephens said during his annual State of the Village address Wednesday afternoon. "It will really be entertaining and fun for families for a long time to come."
Stephens announced plans for the $56 million stadium during last year's address, given annually at a Rosemont Chamber of Commerce luncheon. At the time, he said he believed there to be a good opportunity to bring baseball to Rosemont, in light of record-setting attendance figures for the Boomers and Cougars, who play in other leagues.
Now a year later, Rosemont's village board is approving construction contracts and lease agreements for the stadium and a proposed Dave & Buster's on two village-owned sites near Balmoral Avenue and the Tri-State Tollway. It includes land Stephens famously offered to the Chicago Cubs for free in 2013 in an attempt to lure the team to Rosemont.
The Rosemont team is expected to play in the American Association of Independent Professional Baseball, a 12-team league based in Durham, North Carolina. The closest team in that league is the Gary SouthShore RailCats in Indiana.
The Boomers, Slammers and Thunderbolts compete in the independent Frontier League. The Drones will play in the collegiate Prospect League.
Only the Cougars, in Geneva, are affiliated with a major league team, as the Class A affiliate of the Arizona Diamondbacks.
The Rosemont team still needs approval from other team owners in the AAIPB. That could come as soon as the next league ownership meeting in October in Fargo, North Dakota.
Stephens attended a previous meeting where plans for the new team were well received, he said.
Hunter, who will serve as managing partner of the baseball franchise, has more than 20 years of executive experience in sports marketing and has held top positions with AEG Sports, the NHL's Phoenix Coyotes and Colorado Avalanche and MLS soccer's Chivas USA.
Gluckstern is a former co-owner of the Coyotes and New York York Islanders.
In addition to running the baseball team, Hunter's and Gluckstern's Rosemont Entertainment Group will coordinate non-baseball event bookings at the stadium.
The stadium is proposed to include six skyboxes, and a 200-person club level available for such private events year-round. The stadium could also be used for other sports, concerts and festivals when baseball isn't being played, Stephens said.
The village will pay for the $56 million, 6,300-seat stadium and adjoining 4-level, 1,200-space parking garage, and $20 million worth of projects across the street including Dave & Buster's, by borrowing up to $100 million through a bond sale. That limit, approved by the village board, was set to ensure any cost overruns are covered, officials said.
Rosemont is giving the building contracts to a joint venture led by longtime local developers Ike Degen and Ray Rosato and Northern Builders -- firms that have received no-bid deals in the past for village work such as the MB Financial Park entertainment district and softball stadium, where the Chicago Bandit's women's softball team plays.
Also Wednesday, the board agreed to a 20-year lease with the team owners, who will pay $175,000 in annual rent.
Stephens said the owners are responsible for finding a naming rights sponsor for the stadium, and as many as a dozen other sponsors. The owners and village will share annual sponsorship revenues, with the owners getting the first $1.3 million, and the remainder divided up: 60 percent to the owners and 40 percent to the village.
The village hopes to recoup costs through a tax increment financing district established last February and potentially an adjoining district, Stephens said.
"I'm reasonably confident we'll be OK," Stephens said.
The vacant site intended for the stadium will be graded over this month in anticipation for the start of construction in the spring.
The stadium is expected to open in May 2018.