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Burlington Bees bouncing back after pandemic, affiliation change

To make up for lost revenue, other events are being hosted at Community Field.

The Burlington Bees are staying alive after a couple of bad hops over the last few years.

After a very successful year in 2019, the Bees were hit with a double whammy.

The entire 2020 season was cancelled because of COVID-19 — and they lost their minor league affiliation with the Angels.

“Our revenue stream really dropped. But I am very proud of what we’ve done since then,” said Board President Scott Zaiser.

The community-owned club became part of the Prospect League in 2021.

Zaiser said attendance is going up, and so is the amount of money each person spends inside the ballpark.

But in the collegiate summer Prospect League, the Bees don’t play nearly as many home games as they did as a minor league affiliate.

So the home of the Bees, aptly named Community Field, is making up revenue in other ways.

“We try to do a lot of things to bring additional events, additional baseball and non-baseball to host at the facility to keep it open and keep it as an asset to the community,” said Tad Lowary, the Bees’ general manager.

Some of those include community events, and local schools playing baseball games there.

Lowary is one of two full-time employees for the club these days.

But the Bees now want to add a full-time groundskeeper and maintenance position.

They are asking the city of Burlington to increase the maintenance stipend it gives to the club to offset the costs.

That stipend has not increased since it was initiated in the 1970s.

If approved as requested, the stipend from the city would go from around $620 a month to $2,500.

Tri States Public Radio produced this story.  TSPR relies on financial support from our readers and listeners in order to provide coverage of the issues that matter to west central Illinois, southeast Iowa, and northeast Missouri. As someone who values the content created by TSPR's news department please consider making a financial contribution.

Jane Carlson is TSPR's regional reporter.