Arlington Heights firm raises stake in its video game lineup
Thursday, September 08, 2011 11:45 PM
It made a name for itself with video games such as Golden Tee Golf, Silver Strike Bowling and Target Toss Pro. Now Arlington Heights-based Incredible Technologies Inc. is adding more casino and poker games to its list of products.
Incredible Technologies in Arlington Heights, makers of Golden Tee Golf, has developed gambling games that would fall under the new video poker legislation laws in Illinois.
Its video slot and poker games include Upper Hand Hold’Em, Mahjong Dynasty and Dandy Dan the Ice Cream Man. They can be found locally in Hollywood Casino in Joliet, Ameristar in East Chicago, Ind., Par-A-Dice Casino in East Peoria and Four Winds in New Buffalo, Mich.
Incredible Technologies also is hoping to place more video gaming machines in restaurants and bars under a new Illinois law that allows video gambling in licensed establishments. A lawsuit and slow movement by the Illinois Gaming Board has delayed the roll out, but Incredible Technologies recently secured manufacturer and distributor licenses from the gaming board.
“The day the state irons everything out, we will be ready to roll out our products to bars and restaurants in Illinois,” says Dan Schrementi, Incredible Technologies’ director of gaming, marketing and new media. The video gaming business has enabled Incredible Technologies to hire about 20 new people in the past few years, and now total employment is at 140.
“We’ve been hiring during the recession, mainly because of the promise of the expansion of casino games,” Schrementi says.
Minor League Musical Chairs
It’s been hard to keep up with all the changes that have taken place this summer with the area’s minor league baseball teams. The ownership changes and financial struggles are the result of the weak economy and the saturation of teams in the Chicago market, one nationally-recognized sports consultant says.
“The recession has hurt a lot of teams across the country. But you certainly have something unique going on in Chicago,” says Matt Perry, president of National Sports Services, a sports consulting firm in Topeka, Kansas.
Here’s a recap of the tumultuous season:
• The Schaumburg Flyers were evicted from Alexian Field after a dispute over unpaid rent to the village and park district, which jointly own the ballpark. A judge ruled earlier this year that former Flyers owner Rich Ehrenreich owed $550,000 in back rent.
• Ehrenreich partnered with actor Kevin Costner to field a new team in Zion called the Lake County Fielders. Earlier this season, the players complained they weren’t being paid, the manager quit via email, and the radio play-by-play announcer walked out after an on-air rant.
More recently, Zion claimed the Fielders owed the city $185,000 in rent, while Ehrenreich complained that he’s having trouble attracting fans because Zion has failed to complete the team’s stadium. And an opposing team walked off the field after complaining that the Fielders were using inferior baseballs.
• Alan Oremus, owner of the Joliet Slammers, withdrew plans to purchase the Schaumburg franchise and field a team in 2012. Chicago attorney Patrick Salvi, owner of the Gary Southshore Railcats, is taking over the Schaumburg franchise.
“There are a lot of chairs moving around the deck in Chicago,” Perry says. “The sheer number of teams makes it hard to compete. And the recession certainly didn’t help.”
The situation is in contrast to minor league baseball’s heyday a decade ago, when cities built lavish stadiums to attract teams and wealthy investors flocked to own a share of a baseball team, Perry says.
“The recession has put a lot of prospective investors on the sidelines,” Perry says. “When their primary business is slow and their stock portfolios are down, investing in a sports team is not at the top of the list.”
Best in Branding
A bit of good news for a local minor league baseball team: the Joliet Slammers was honored for having the 2011 Logo of the Year by Ballpark Digest. The team embraced Joliet’s history as home to a correctional center by choosing the name “Slammers” and a jailbird as its mascot. “ … Embracing the jailbird theme showed the front office to be good natured and edgy,” says Ballpark Digest Publisher Kevin Reichard.
Sports Authority is testing a new retailing concept in the Chicago area with the opening of three S.A. Elite stores. The stores are smaller than the traditional Sports Authority stores and will carry more upscale items from brands such as Nike, Under Armour, North Face and UGG Australia. S.A.
Elite stores will open at Oakbrook Center and Northbrook Court in early November, while a Water Tower Place store will open next spring. The mall stores will be no larger than 15,000 square feet compared to a full-service Sports Authority at 50,000 square feet.
Sharing the Wealth
A successful International Festival of Racing, which includes the Arlington Million, enabled Arlington Park to recently increase its average purse distribution, the amount it pays out to horse owners, from $202,000 to $212,000.
Higher purses attract better horses. Arlington Park has been urging the State Legislature to allowed slot machines at race tracks as a way to increase purses. So far, Arlington has had to boost purses on its own.
“When Arlington Park is able to bring top quality stakes races to a national and international market, the revenues earned from those races allow us to bolster our overnight program for the horsemen who race with us season long,” says Arlington Park General Manager Tony Petrillo.
• You can contact columnist John Slania at firstname.lastname@example.org