Owners say Gems won’t play in Quincy during 2024 season, plan to move franchise to different city
QUINCY — After 27 years of providing summer college baseball, the Quincy Gems are no more.
Jimmie and Julie Louthan, owners of Quincy Gems Baseball, announced Tuesday in a press release the Quincy Gems will not play at QU Stadium for the 2024 season.
“The decision was made after carefully considering many factors in running the business,” the press release said. “In recent years, it has become increasingly difficult to offer affordable seasonal entertainment in this market. We have sacrificed valuable family time over the last 10 seasons and are ready for fewer summer commitments.”
The Quincy Gems were a part of the Prospect League, a collegiate summer league for elite college players, with home games played at QU Stadium, 18th and Sycamore. The Gems were created in 1996 and owned by the Quincy Civic Center Authority while playing in the Central Illinois Collegiate League. The team moved to the Prospect League in 2009.
The Prospect League had 17 teams this past season. The Gems qualified for the eight-team playoff field and reached the league’s championship series, losing two out of three games to the Chillicothe Paints. The Gems won league titles in 2009, 2011 and 2014.
Jimmie and Julie Louthan’s catering business, JJ’s Catering, managed the concessions at the stadium for the 2014 season. The Louthans became part of the ownership group Gems BB3, LLC — which included Terry Martin and Chris Martin — that bought the team in September 2014. The Louthans have been the sole owners of the team since the 2016 season.
The Louthans said in the press release they intend to remain in the Prospect League and move the team to a different city under new management. The Louthans also are part-owners — with Rick DeStefane and Matt Stembridge — of the Normal CornBelters and the O’Fallon Hoots. The Louthans and Stembridge also own Play 9, a baseball and softball tournament company in the St. Louis market.
“We are sincerely grateful for the unforgettable connections made with players, host families, fans, sponsors and those in the community who supported Quincy Gems Baseball along with the dedicated staff who made summer baseball in Quincy possible,” the Louthans said.
The Louthans declined to comment except for their statements in the press release.
David Brauer, who became the league’s commissioner in January 2023, said Quincy had shown “tremendous support” to the team.
“The decision was difficult, but it was necessary, given the stadium’s condition and the need to begin planning for next season,” Brauer said Tuesday afternoon. “Ultimately, the Gems were faced with a lot of uncertainty about how and when the safety concerns and infrastructure needs would be addressed there at QU stadium. That made for an untenable situation.”
Brauer said he was aware of concerns about the stadium once he took his new job.
“I had been made aware that it was ongoing and something that was going to need to be addressed at some point,” he said. “The Gems were working as best they could with Quincy University, and obviously, that didn’t work out unfortunately.”
Josh Rabe, athletic director at Quincy University, said he has never received a request for a structural engineering assessment of the stadium from either the Prospect League or the Gems.
“The stadium was constructed in 1938, and it’s nearing its 100th birthday,” Rabe said Tuesday afternoon. “Of course, it’s not a new shiny toy coming off the assembly line. The stadium had a great spring, and it seemed like the Quincy Gems drew well this summer. I can honestly tell you there were no problems reported to me about the structure or the safety of the fans.”
The stadium is home to the Quincy University baseball team during the spring.
Minor league baseball teams called Quincy home as far back as 1946. The stadium, then known as Q-Stadium, was home to a New York Yankees affiliate in the Class B Three-I League from 1946 to 1960.
The San Francisco Giants had a Class D Midwest League affiliate in Quincy from 1960-61. The New York Mets had a Class D Midwest League affiliate in Quincy in 1962 and a Class A Midwest League affiliate in Quincy 1963. The Quincy Gems were unaffiliated in the Midwest League in 1964, and the Chicago Cubs had a Midwest League affiliate in Quincy from 1965 to 1973.
Quincy then had a team called the Rivermen in the Central Illinois Collegiate League from 1974-87. The stadium was quiet during the summers until 1996 when the Gems were born.
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