Newest Minor League Team Debuts In Rosemont On Friday

Lisa Fielding
May 23, 2018 - 2:38 pm

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CHICAGO (WBBM NEWSRADIO) -- Things are a buzz inside the brand new Impact Field, two days ahead of the inaugural season of the Chicago Dogs baseball team.

"We've been working non-stop, but things look pretty good," said Shawn Hunter, Owner, Chicago Dogs.

Hunter said it's always been a dream of his to own a minor league team.

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"I met Rosemont's mayor back in the summer of 2015 and he shared his vision about bringing professional baseball to Rosemont and I shared my vision about always wanting to own a team and we become fast friends. We started designing this in early 2016 and started construction in late 2016 and here we are," he said.

Hunter has been in professional sports for 27 years.

"I've run teams in the NBA and in the NHL, but I'm a huge baseball fan. I grew up in Kansas City and grew up a huge Royals fan, but to do this in Rosemont and Chicago is a dream."

After 18 months of construction, the $60 million, 6,300 seat stadium is ready to welcome its first fans.

"The village of Rosemont, they have designed and built a beautiful ballpark. I think it's one of the nicest in the country. It's got a 360 concourse," Hunter said. "We have six unique destinations in the ballpark. These are party areas, a private club, different party decks on the second level. Whether its a corporate outing, a school outing, youth baseball there's something for everyone to come out and enjoy the game."

The Dogs will play in the Independent American League, which has a 12 team roster.

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"It's equivalent of double A baseball. We play teams as far north as Winnipeg Canada and as far south as the Dallas, Fort Worth area. Part of our mandate of our roster of 23 men, six must be rookies. A lot of these guys are coming out of college. Some were drafted, some are not. This is the place to be discovered for the first time or they are rebounding from an injury. There are 14 guys right now that are starting in Major League Baseball that started in the American Association."

Their manager is Butch Hobson, who both played and managed for the Boston Red Sox.

With Major Leagues prices on the rise, Hunter said a minor league ballpark is more affordable, especially for families.

"The access, the inspiration is probably unequal to anything. Every seat is right on top of the field. We will be doing running the bases on Friday nights, free autographs every Sunday on family day," he said.   

Seats run between $9-$25.

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"Baseball is the heart of it, the hero. This is the best baseball city in the United States with the Cubs and the Sox and some of the other minor league teams, but our ability to put together big time show at affordable prices, a family of four can come out here for $50-$60 and go home and actually do it many times in the summer, that makes me very happy," Hunter said.

Impact Field can be seen from the Tri State. Hunter said this is a bonus.

"I don't think I could've picked a better location. Our scoreboard is double sided. Right outside centerfield, we have 205,000 cars that go by daily. We have a two-sided scoreboard. The screen shows into the crowd and the backside is a screen promoting our upcoming games and our corporate partners."

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After every Dogs home win, the team will hoist a "V" flag that stands for Victory and Vienna Beef, which will also fly the V flag at their home headquarters on Chicago's North side.

The Dogs home opener is on Friday, May 25.

"We're going to have a fireworks show. We're also going to unveil our mascot that night. We'll also give fans commemorate inaugural home opener tickets."

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How did Hunter come up with the team name?

"I think a hot dog and baseball go together and you combine that with a Chicago Dog and you get a little slice of America and that's what we have here in Rosemont."

The Chicago Dogs will play 50 games at home starting this weekend through Labor Day.