In a press release today, the Lake County Fielders announced that they are suspending play for the 2012 season citing the continued delays in a permanent ballpark as the primary reason behind their decision. In their e-newsletter, the Fielders front office stated plainly, "With no existing stadium in Zion, we will not be participating in any formal baseball league play this upcoming season."
This places the blame squarely on the city of Zion, Illinois. The Fielders have played in a temporary stadium, which Stadium Journey rated as the worst experience in minor league baseball in 2011. Fielders Stadium was nothing more than temporary stands, trailer restrooms, and temporary concession and merchandise stands.
The Lake County Fielders experiment has been an unmitigated disaster from the very beginning. Their biggest accomplishment was attracting celebrity part owner Kevin Costner to the franchise, and creating an attractive logo based on Costner's iconic film, Field of Dreams. Unfortunately, that association has become an ironic juxtaposition given the stadium problems, and issues with staff and players.
In March of 2012, former PA announcer Gregory Koeppen won his lawsuit against the Fielders for backpay. In July 2011, radio announcer Qumar Zaman quit on air for similar reasons. Zaman stated at the end of a broadcast, "They didn't pay me all the money owed to me, and that's why I'm leaving right now." It's an interesting rant to listen to if you have four minutes.
The Fielders manager, Tim Johnson, quit right before a game in July. The following Monday, the Fielders traded nine players and released 14 more.
The Chicago Sun Times reported that the Lake County Fielders 2011 campaign was "the worst season ever." While there will likely be additional legal maneuverings on either side of the stadium issue, it is probably best if this team simply disappears.