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Subject: Sale?

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Date Posted: 16:07:59 09/20/03 Sat

From the Southtown. I hope that they retain Chuck, he seems like he is on the right track with player personnel moves.


Stranczek family part of new Cheetahs bid

Saturday, September 20, 2003

By Kristen McQueary
Staff writer

The son of Crestwood Mayor Chester Stranczek is among the investors putting up money to buy the Cook County Cheetahs minor league baseball team, which under new ownership will be run by a former Cleveland Indians player.
Michael Stranczek, who works at the Stranczek family's trucking company, is one of several investors contributing more than $200,000 each to buy the team from its current owner, the Daily Southtown confirmed Friday.

Primary investors include John Kelly of Oak Forest, a lobbyist who works for Crestwood on legislative issues in Springfield, and former state Sen. Patrick O'Malley of Palos Park.

Kevin Rhomberg, a former Indians player, will be general manager of the team and part-owner. He previously served as managing partner for the minor league Canton Crocodiles.

Rhomberg played for the Indians in 1982, 1983 and 1984. His resume includes work as a major league scout and intercollegiate head baseball coach. He is married with four children.

Chester Stranczek has been looking for new team owners for more than a year as attendance at Hawkinson Ford Field declined. Stranczek believes current owner Dave Arch, CEO of Blistex, wasn't marketing the team well enough to draw large crowds.

Crestwood owns the 2,500-seat ballpark and receives a portion of attendance, score board and parking fees from the team.

Stranczek reportedly wanted to see local investors who hold a stake in the community and people close to him own the team.

Rhomberg and his family will move from their Ohio home to the Chicago area to launch the new venture.

Other investors have not yet been named.

According to a preliminary copy of the investors' agreement, they will recoup their investments in total before money flows to the team manager.

Arch wants $600,000 to $700,000 for the team. With startup costs, the investors are putting up about $1 million. The deal is expected to be final by the end of the month, sources said.

The mayor also has a son, Robert, who serves as a trustee for Crestwood. Neither he, the mayor, nor Michael Stranczek returned calls for comment.

Southtown politics writer Kristen McQueary may be reached at kmcqueary@dailysouthtown.com or (708) 633-5972.

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Date Posted: 01:46:27 09/21/03 Sun

I hope they will keep Chuck on as well. I think he's done a great job.

I'm waiting to see who the new owners are going to be before I renew my season tickets. I wish the Arch's would keep the team and not sell it.

But I guess we'll have to wait and see what happens, and what perks the new owners may have for season ticket holders. Such as a parking pass for season ticket holders for each home game, etc...

I'll be watching and waiting before I make a renewal decision. And those who know me, know how much of a die-hard cheetah fan I am.

I'd suggest to other season ticket holders that you might want to wait and see what's happening with ownership before you renew. Personally, I'd like to see Mr. Arch back as team owner for the 2004 season.

Anyone else have any thoughts on this?

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[> [> Subject: Re: Sale?

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Date Posted: 16:49:38 09/21/03 Sun

I don't think the Arch's have much choice. Too much bad publicity, too many mistakes. The mayor won't work with the current ownership, and they need the cooperation of the city to operate their team. I don't think anyone can argue that the current owners have done a less than stellar job marketing and promoting their team, which is curious to me, seeing as how they stand to lose money when fans don't come to the park. Hopefully, new owners can come in and correct some of the mistakes that were made and build on the positives.

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[> [> [> Subject: Re: Sale?

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Date Posted: 15:06:46 09/22/03 Mon

ian i have to reply to your first post. about heeman being on top of player pesonnel moves. nine out of ten times general managers in the frontier league have nothing to do with player personnel moves. general managers are put in place to bring people to games. now if that means going out to the local little league games, kiwanis meetings, etc. that is what they are supposed to do. managers in the frontier league wear many hats and getting players is the most important. so if you have had the oppurtunity to sit down with a certain gm in the league and he tells you he gets the players, you had better think twice. he may get the fax out of the machine and pass it on, but that doesnt mean he found the player.

the cheetahs needed to be sold. with the facilties they have the cheetahs should be one of the top three teams in the league. and dont think that the team wont be run right with the mayor and ex-senator's money at stake.

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[> [> [> [> Subject: Re: Sale?

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Date Posted: 19:41:18 09/22/03 Mon

I've never sat down with a GM of any team anywhere. I'm not an insider, I'm just a guy with a daughter who seems to enjoy baseball games (she's not talking much yet, so I can't be sure, but she sure seems to enjoy herself). If you say a GM in the Frontier League is an glorified PR man, then I guess that might be true. All I can say is that when Chuck took over, the teams were better than they were before he took over. I thought it was due to Chuck's work. Maybe not. It seems that you're saying that the field manager scouts and signs players? I guess that would mean that Mike Moore was responsible for player moves?

I know nothing of front office workings and who does what. What I do know is that the cheetahs were very poorly marketed. Was that Chuck's fault? Maybe, if what you say is true. Could he have done any better working for an owner who wouldn't even hire a groundskeeper? I'd say probably not.

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Date Posted: 16:56:46 09/21/03 Sun

I am glad the team has been sold. I have watched them cut back on the things that draw families to the game. Each year the extras were fewer and fewer.

This year I had to resort to the checking out game stats on the web---couldn't even find a mention of the Cheetahs in the Sunday Southtown.

Yes---sale to folks who have an interest in the local communicty has to be a plus.

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[> [> Subject: Re: Sale?

Oak Lawn Guy
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Date Posted: 14:39:07 09/22/03 Mon

It appears that Chuck would not be retained if the club were sold, according to the originally posted story. In fact it looks like Rhomberg is already moving here to step into the GM spot. And that's the worst part of the whole thing, that Chuck Heeman has to pay for ownership's mistakes. His efforts and those of his staff made coming to the park a lot more pleasant than it could have been. If your boss is not going to put money and time and thought into the franchise, how much can you really do?

That said, this team needs an infusion of new blood. The non-baseball aspects of attending a game have gone downhill over the last 2-3 years. It is apparent that Arch cannot work with Crestwood and as long as that situation persists, the team will remain moribund. Let's face it, attendance is down two years in a row now. There is no reason that other teams within major metro areas like St. Louis should outdraw the Cheetahs, and outdraw them by substantial numbers. In fact there is no reason that Rockford should outclass the Cheetahs in attendance numbers, especially considering the location of their park (Marinelli Field).

Pat O'Malley is a long time politician who knows the value of publicity and giving the people what they want. The involvement of the Stranczeks can only help this cause, they want people to come to Crestwood and visit their park, and they want people to do this more than just once or twice a summer.

I don't see the area kids involved in the team or the games much anymore, except for the skills challenge that the Star sponsors every year. I feel that the new owners would encourage that involvement.

This is a quality product and a tremendous value. Kane County is at least an hour's drive for many of us, and outside the first round draft picks, the level of play is not much different. The Jackhammers play a slightly higher level of baseball, featuring ex-pro players who spent considerable time in the ranks, but they too aren't that close. And I don't know anyone that relishes driving to Gary. I can get to The Hawk in 15 minutes from Oak Lawn and the trip is a lot quicker from other suburbs.

Personally I am all for new ownership. Sure they would have to prove to me, the consumer, that they mean business. They need to show that they are interested in producing a good product at a good price, for the good fans of the Southland. And they would need to start this winter. But a change is needed, and it's needed before this team is left in the dust of the Frontier League, and forced to move. You'd think a Chicago area team wouldn't fail, but the Cheetahs are on the brink of doing just that.

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[> [> [> Subject: Re: Sale?

cubs rule
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Date Posted: 14:29:16 09/23/03 Tue

everyone is talking about chuck and i feel left out. one reason is because i really dont have any background on him. does anyone know where mr. heeman was before he became gm of the cheetahs? any info would be helpful. then maybe i could defend this guy too.

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Date Posted: 23:43:21 09/23/03 Tue


Thank you for the very kind words, I'm not so sure they are deserved, but thank you. See below:

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE - September 23, 2003

Contact: Chuck Heeman
Phone: 708-489-2255
e-mail: cheetahsbaseball@aol.com

Cheetahs Staff Moves On

CRESTWOOD, IL - The Cook County Cheetahs announced today that their entire
remaining staff - General Manager Chuck Heeman, Director of Administration Pat
Rusthoven and Director of Stadium Operations Michael Conrad - will not be
returning for the 2004 season.

"With the impending changes in ownership and a new direction with the club,
Pat and I have been told that our services won't be needed with the new
organization," Heeman said. "The new owners had given us the opportunity to
re-interview at some point in the future, but we've declined that opportunity. Michael
(Conrad) had already informed us that he'll be moving out of the area by the
end of the month."

Heeman joined the Cheetahs in December 2001, and Rusthoven has spent five
years with the team. Conrad took over Hawkinson Ford stadium operations last

"It's been an interesting two years for me, and I do thank David Arch
(Cheetahs owner) for giving me the opportunity to work in baseball," Heeman said.
"It's certainly any new ownership group's perogative to bring in new people, and
we all wish them luck in accomplishing great things with the team. Working
with the staff we were able to put together this season has been a pleasure, and
I'll take good memories from that part of my Cheetahs experience."

The three staff members' last day of work will be September 30.

- end -

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