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Marion leaders talk about loss of Southern Illinois Miners

Published: Oct. 7, 2021 at 6:14 PM CDT
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MARION, Ill. (KFVS) - What’s the future of Rent One Park in Marion?

City leaders now take up the issue, as the owners of the Southern Illinois Miners are folding the team and heading into retirement.

After 14 years, the stadium is no longer home to a Frontier League baseball team.

“We certainly understand and respect their business decision to do that,” said Marion Mayor Mike Absher.

Absher said he understands the Simmons’ decision to retire from ownership, but, financially, he’s not sure how much of an impact the Miners leaving will have on surrounding businesses.

“Unfortunately, based on my, at least my observation of attendance numbers there from an economic standpoint, I don’t know that it’s going to have that big of an impact, every bit helps and so anything lost hurts, there’s no question, but I don’t think it’s going to be a devastating thing economically in terms of the sales tax or anything like that,” he said.

The Simmons privately own Rent One park.

The recent tax evaluation of the property is just over $3 million. The city of Marion also pays the Simmons close to $600,000 a year to pay down debt. That money comes from an one-eighth-cent sales tax.

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

“If there’s a way that, that sports turf could be and I don’t know if this is possible, but if it could be formatted and they eluded to this in there statement yesterday which encouraged me, if it could be formatted for other sports or other kinds of venues other than just baseball, that seemingly to me would be ideal so that you’re just not a single sport kind of facility,” said Mayor Absher.

Frontier League CEO Jon Danos said on Thursday the league would be interested in any opportunity for southern Illinois.

Danos also gave credit to the Simmons Family for creating a great thing in southern Illinois.

Mayor Absher said he is looking forward to the future endeavors of Rent One Park.

“And so it’s still got lots of life left and I’ll be excited to see what ideas others have,” he said.

Absher also wanted to thank the Simmons for bringing baseball to southern Illinois.

“So for that I am grateful to the Simmons, I certainly wish them well on there retirement and very grateful for their investment in Marion,” he explained.

Owner Jayne Simmons did say to expect to hear more in the coming months.

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