Owners of Southern Ill. Miners to retire, 2021 was last season for team in Marion

Published: Oct. 6, 2021 at 2:01 PM CDT|Updated: Oct. 6, 2021 at 6:24 PM CDT
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MARION, Ill. (KFVS) - The longtime owners of the Southern Illinois Miners announced they are retiring and 2021 was the last season the team will be playing in Marion.

The announcement was posted on the team’s Facebook page on Wednesday, October 6.

Jayne and John Simmons Announce Retirement from Professional Baseball in Marion, Illinois Marion, Illinois – Wednesday,...

Posted by Southern Illinois Miners on Wednesday, October 6, 2021

Jayne and John Simmons announced they were retiring from Frontier League baseball ownership.

“This is a bittersweet decision for us,” the Simmons said on the Miners website. “We love the southern Illinois community and our family roots run deep here. We appreciate the years of support we have enjoyed from baseball fans, civic leaders, business owners, vendors and the City of Marion. We are at a time in our lives where we really would like to spend more time with our children and grandchildren.”

Jayne Simmons called Rent One Park a “wonderful asset to the community” with potential as a multi-use facility.

She said they will share more information about the stadium in the coming months.

“John and I would like to express our deepest appreciation to the loyal baseball fans, host families, season ticket holders, the City of Marion, local businesses, our sponsors like Rent One and all of the people who helped us create a generation of baseball memories here in southern Illinois,” she continued. “We will continue to look for meaningful ways to support Marion and the region.”

The City of Marion released this statement on Wednesday:

“In response to today’s news that Southern Illinois Miners baseball will not return, we would like to thank John and Jayne Simmons for their commitment to and investment in Marion over the last 15 years. We have all enjoyed watching Miners’ baseball and will forever be grateful for the friendships forged with Mike Pinto, Miners’ staff and players over the last decade and a half.

“Rent One Park will continue to be an important part of Marion’s future. While we are saddened by today’s news, we understand it is a business decision and we will continue to ensure that the stadium remains a dynamic asset for our region. We are excited to work with the Simmons’ and any future stakeholders on the future vitality of Rent One Park.

“On behalf of a grateful community, we thank the Simmons family, the Miners’ organization and their sponsors for the wonderful times and growth we have all enjoyed.”

The team ended their 2021 season with a 7-3 victory over the Gateway Grizzlies at Rent One Park, finishing with a record of 54 wins and 42 losses.

The Miners have played for 14 seasons. The inaugural season was in 2007, when Rent One Park was built.

The price tag for the park and all of the infrastructure was into the millions-of-dollars.

In their first season, the Miners saw more than 250,000 people attend the games. That attendance and interest has dwindled over the years, especially during the pandemic.

Rent One Park is at the center of the so-called “Hill” District.

It has long been considered an entertainment venue, not just for the city, but also for the region.

Besides the stadium, four new hotels were built there, as well as several other restaurants and businesses.

Williamson County Commissioner Brent Gentry said this is a shock and major blow to southern Illinois.

“So when you hear the news, that the Miners are not going to be playing anymore, you just kind of scratch your head and wonder what the future is at the beautiful stadium,” he said.

Gentry said the stadium is a great place for a new owner to land with some other business.

It’s not known if it’ll be another baseball team or some other type of entertainment.

Taxpayers are still on the hook to pay for the facility.

On average, about $600,000 a year goes to the current owners. That money comes from a one-eighth-cent sales tax paid by the City of Marion.

That agreement continues until 2036, or until the debt is paid off, regardless of who owns the ballpark.

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