Wooden bat league baseball coming to Rent One Park in 2023

Almost a year after the Southern Illinois Miners abruptly ended their operations in the heart of Marion, local baseball fans have the promise of a new team to cheer at Rent One Park - and naming rights are up in the air.

Park management announced Friday that a new team will play on the diamond in 2023, giving the park a resident home team for the first time since the Frontier League-affiliated Miners ended their 14-year run at the end of last season. The announcement came during the opening ceremony of the Colt World Series, which was ongoing over the weekend at Rent One Park.

Details about the new team are spare, although Rent One Park general manager Dave Kost said it will play in "a collegiate, wooden bat baseball league." Even a name is needed. The public has been invited to submit ideas at

"This is top-flight baseball," Kost said. "Players come from colleges across the country to play. The players use wooden bats because Major League Baseball scouts want to see how the college stars do with the same bats the pros use."

The facility's long-term future has been uncertain since last October, when Miners owners Jayne and John Simmons announced their retirement and a sudden end to the Miners organization, which began fielding a team for Rent One Park's inaugural season in 2007.

The construction of the park fueled significant infrastructure developments in that part of commercial Marion, known as "The Hill." In December, the Marion City Council signed off on an agreement to extend sales-tax incentives for Rent One Park from 2037 to 2042.

In January, Marion Center Project LLC - the business group that also owns the former Illinois Star Centre Mall, Kokopelli Golf Club, Black Diamond Harley-Davidson and Oasis Outdoors in Marion - purchased the park with plans to make it "a cornerstone of sports tourism," Rodney Cabaness, co-owner of Black Diamond Harley-Davidson, told the city council.

In announcing the purchase, the park's new owners said they would focus on generating tourism for the area by bringing in baseball and other entertainment - both mainstays during the Miners' tenure.

Activities at the park this summer have further pointed in that direction. In addition to this week's Colt World Series, which on Tuesday concluded its fifth season in Marion, Rent One also hosted "Rock the Park" with headlining acts Dokken and Warrant. On the schedule for Labor Day Weekend is the sports stunt show Nitro Circus.

Team name suggestions will be accepted until the new name is announced in early fall, according to Rent One Park management.

While the Miners set Frontier League attendance records during their early years at Rent One Park, later seasons saw a decline in enthusiasm. Marion Republican file photo