Burros Don't Have a Field After All
Burros parents contacted by Patch on Thursday said the youth football organization told them different things about whether a replacement field was for practice, for games or for both.
If you signed up your children for Mokena Burros football, flag or cheer believing the group had space to play games this season, you were wrong.
A vacant lot intended for a Meijer that never materialized is a field only for practice, not for play, the Burros board president said this week.
On Tuesday, five days after the Burros second and final registration for the 2012 season, board President Joe Lentz and several parents spoke at the Mokena Community Park District board meeting.
During the speech, which Lentz e-mailed to Patch after the meeting, Lentz spoke of the Meijer lot as "a practice facility for 2012 to alleviate scheduling congestion for practices with the new start-up program."
Lentz on Thursday said the Meijer field was always only for practice, never for games. He said press reports saying the field would be used for games were the result of misunderstandings between reporters and the Burros' PR representative.
"That was never the intent," Lentz said on Thursday
However, five Burros parents contacted on Thursday said three different things: Two said the Burros told them the Meijer field was just for practice; two said they were told the field was for games; and one said she was told the field was back-up, in case the group couldn't come to terms with the park district.
All five had already committed their children to the Burros' 2012 season.
Different Parents, Different Stories
Burros parent Gerry Reyna said he was told at the March 8 alumni registration that games would be held at the Meijer lot.
"When I went for signups at the alumni registration, they had a big poster of the land and the layout of that," he said.
Parent Darlene Kruse said she was told the same.
"So far all I have been told is the Burros games are being held at the Route 30 location on Wolf (the rented 15 acres from Meijers)," she said.
Parent Julie Morlan said she was told that the lot would only be used for practice, never for games.
"The email said they would have practices at JCPenney but they weren’t sure where the games would be," Morlan said.
A parent who did not wish to be quoted said the same as Morlan.
Parent Pam Widule said she was told the Meijer lot was a "Plan B" in case the Burros and the park district couldn’t come to terms.
"If the contract's not signed, that's where we will be playing," she said.
Did Reporters Get it Wrong?
Lentz said reports in Patch, the SouthtownStar and the Joliet Herald-News saying games would be held at the field were due to miscommunication between reporters and Burros PR representative Lisa Gunggoll.
"I'm pretty sure her statements were made out of context," Lentz said.
In a March 2 email, Gunggoll responded to Patch's question "To clarify, will the space be used for practice, for games or for both?" by saying "As of now, we believe that this field will fulfill all our needs."
Gunggoll could not be reached by telephone for comment on Thursday.
Lentz said he read several of the articles, but did not correct them because he interpreted them as reporting that the fields would only be used for practice.
"I guess because I had the insight when I read those articles," he said.
Those articles included "After Park District Dispute, Mokena Burros Find New Field" (Mokena Patch), "Burros football team finds new home field" (SouthtownStar) and a Joliet Herald-News editorial that included the line "We're glad that a good solution was found that allows the Burros to play at a newly leased home field."
Main Park or... Main Park
Whatever parents believed when they signed up, they are now committed to the Burros' 2012 season.
Lentz said there is no backup plan if the park district doesn't back down and let the Burros rent fields without changing leadership.
"At this point, I don't know if we've looked any further because I think we can work out our differences," Lentz said.
All five parents contacted for this story said they feel the Burros should be allowed to rent fields at Main Park.
Lentz said he was confident the season will materialize.
"One way or another we will be playing football in August, September and October," he said.