Owners: Few things minor about new Rosemont baseball franchise

When Rosemont's new baseball stadium opens a year from now, the only thing minor league about it might be the team on the field and ticket prices.

So say the two investors behind the still-unnamed franchise, which is expected to play ball beginning in May 2018 in the 12-team American Association of Independent Professional Baseball, a Durham, North Carolina-based league whose owners recently approved the new Rosemont franchise.

The $60 million, 6,300-seat stadium is taking shape at Balmoral Avenue and the Tri-State Tollway. It is paid for by the village, which last September inked a 20-year lease with the team owners.

“The goal is to treat every event like Fan Appreciation Day,” said Shawn Hunter, one of the co-owners, who introduced himself to the media with fellow investor Steven Gluckstern at a downtown Chicago luncheon Thursday.

League ticket prices average $12 to $15 — a price point the owners hope can lure fans from the more pricey major league sporting events.

“Affordability is important to us,” Gluckstern said. “It's really about the family experience.”

The two corporate sports executives say they were drawn to Rosemont because of its location, access by tollways and public transportation, and “complementary assets,” such as the nearby MB Financial Park entertainment district, Fashion Outlets of Chicago mall and The Pearl District mixed-use development under construction concurrently across Balmoral from the stadium.

“I'd like to think we're the cherry on top,” Hunter said. “We couldn't replicate this anywhere. From a location standpoint, there isn't another community in the U.S. that has what we have there.”

The stadium will include six skyboxes, and a 200-person club level available for private events, a party deck area, and a two-sided video board that will face inside and outside along I-294. An adjoining, 883-space parking garage also is being built.

Rosemont, with a population of only 4,200, attracts up to 75,000 visitors a day, with its hotels, businesses and entertainment offerings, including the Chicago Wolves and Chicago Sky at Allstate Arena and the Chicago Bandits at a 2,000-seat softball stadium next to the construction site of the minor league baseball park.

Village officials have tossed around the idea of some type of baseball stadium for the last several years, including Mayor Brad Stephens' pitch to the Chicago Cubs in 2013. Part of the land Stephens offered to the Cubs is being used for the minor league baseball project, first announced in 2015.

“This is just the next step,” Stephens said. “We look at these as more than landlord-tenant relationships. These are partnerships.”

The team owners are choosing among four team names and expect to unveil their selection in 45 to 60 days. They also are securing a stadium naming rights sponsor and up to a dozen other advertisers.

As part of their contract with Rosemont, the owners will coordinate non-baseball stadium events, which could include outdoor hockey, festivals and concerts for up to 9,500.

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  Shawn Hunter, co-owner of a proposed Rosemont minor league baseball team, talks about some of the features of the 6,300-seat stadium under construction at Balmoral Avenue and the Tri-State Tollway. Christopher Placek/
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