Boomers' season canceled in Schaumburg, but baseball is on in Rosemont
There will be no joy in Schaumburg from the Boomers baseball team in 2020, but fans can make the short drive to Rosemont to hear calls of "play ball" and the crack of the bat this summer.
The Frontier League, which includes the Schaumburg Boomers and Joliet Slammers, announced Wednesday morning the suspension of its entire 2020 season due to restrictions on large gatherings and travel caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Just hours later, the Chicago Dogs announced they will resume play at Rosemont's Impact Field beginning Tuesday, July 7, with a three-game homestand against the Milwaukee Milkmen.
The Dogs play in the American Association of Independent Professional Baseball, which earlier this month outlined plans for a 60-game season. The Dogs initially planned to play "home" games at the Milkmen's ballpark in suburban Milwaukee but said Wednesday they would instead return to Rosemont for a 30-game slate with limited spectators permitted under Phase 4 of the Restore Illinois plan.
"We're thrilled to be playing baseball, and especially in front of our fans at Impact Field," Dogs owner Shawn Hunter said in the announcement. "This positive news will help all of us kick off the summer celebration."
In the meantime, Frontier League officials said they could not conduct a season under the various guidelines in their teams' home markets, which include seven states and Canada.
"We all want to play Frontier League baseball in 2020," league President Rich Sauget Sr. said in a statement. "However, with the continuing limitations on social gatherings in our markets, plus travel restrictions impacting our Canadian teams, we had to make the tough decision that without availability to play in many of our 14 ballparks that a 2020 championship season was no longer realistic."
The vote of the league's board of directors was unanimous.
While smaller events -- such as Independence Day fireworks displays on the evenings of July 3 and 4 -- will make limited use of Schaumburg Boomers Stadium and its parking lot, team Vice President and General Manager Michael Larson expressed the organization's disappointment that a professional baseball season won't be played there this year.
"We've spent three months thinking about how to make something work," Larson said. "We spent the last two months waiting for something drastic to change for the positive, and it never came."
Larson added that almost all the ideas pondered to play in 2020 would have compromised the fan experience. That led to priorities' gradually changing to reaching the best decision for 2021 and beyond.
"We're committed to the long term here in Schaumburg," Larson said.
The season's suspension will likely have some financial impact on the village, which not only is the landlord of the stadium but also collects sales and food and beverage taxes from merchandise and concessions sold there.
A year's rent for the stadium is currently $110,000, and there have been no discussions as of yet on whether that would be affected by the pandemic.
Schaumburg's Director of Communications Allison Albrecht said the tax revenue collected during a typical year at the stadium is about $74,000. But because of the smaller events already scheduled there -- and still being scheduled -- that amount is not expected to drop to zero, she added.
Wednesday's news was already anticipated by the village, when it added an assumption of a suspended Boomers season to its May budget update.
The Joliet Slammers announced Wednesday that they would participate in a first City Of Champions Cup at DuPage Medical Group Field beginning on July 16. Four teams made up of players drafted from Frontier League teams as well as other free agents will play a 27-game schedule at the Joliet ballpark through Sept. 6.
Frontier League Commissioner Bill Lee said the decision to cancel comes as the league was anticipating its "best season ever."
"That being said our leaguewide focus now shifts to carrying this momentum into 2021," he added.