OLC executive director says 'serious conversations' ongoing for potential Gems sale

Rob Ebbing
Posted: Jun. 19, 2014 10:21 am Updated: Jul. 3, 2014 12:15 pm

Herald-Whig Staff Writer

The Quincy Civic Center Authority and two unnamed parties are in "serious conversations" for the sale of the Quincy Gems, according to Rob Ebbing, executive director of the Oakley-Lindsay Center.

Ebbing, who also is the executive director of the Gems, said he is confident that the team will be sold this season. Discussions of the sale also include the Prospect League, which is based in Tennessee.

"Everything looks good at this point, but the paper hasn't been signed and the check isn't in hand," he said.

Ebbing provided an update on the sale of the team after Wednesday's Civic Center Authority meeting.

The team was placed on the market in October after it lost more than $91,000 last season.

Ebbing said it is important for a deal to be reached by Aug. 1 -- the deadline for teams to notify the Prospect League if they will not field a team for the 2015 season. Members of the authority would have to agree by that date to run the team an additional season if the team is not sold.

"Their wishes at this point is to get the team sold," he said. "We'll cross that bridge when we get there."

Ebbing is pleased with the start of the season. Through eight games, an average of 1,039 fans have attended games, ranking fourth out of 11 teams in the Prospect League. Average attendance was 921 in 2013 and 908 in 2012.

"Sold corporate nights are the same (16) as they were last year at this point," Ebbing said. "Hopefully, we'll sell a few more of those that are available for the second half of the season."

Promotions and advertising are down compared to the last season, he added, but the team is operating without a full-time salesman. Ebbing said the team also is operating with two fewer interns, one grounds crew worker and no staff for concessions, which was outsourced to JJ's Catering.

"We're attempting to operate all aspects of the operation this year with fewer staff members," he said. "It's helping us on the bottom line on payroll, but it hurt us a little bit on some of the early corporate sales by not having enough people out banging on doors."

The Gems did not add new features at QU Stadium as it did in recent years, such as the right field deck and the installation of padded chairs in box seats.