Winds of Change Blowing Again in Crystal Lake

By
Updated: February 3, 2014

Crystal Lake, Illinois; September 8, 2019 – The long unsettled ownership situation in Crystal Lake appears to be in flux again as rumors of waning interest and growing distrust by front office executives of current Sandgnats owner and Venezuelan business mogul Juan Cuevas intensify.  Cuevas, who purchased a majority stake in the Sandgnats from the son of late owner Larry Ellison following the 2018 season, appears poised to take a reported $50 million-plus from the organization following a successful 2019 campaign, and sell the team again.  Though early reports have not identified a potential successor, some rumors have placed a conglomerate of Hollywood brass as the potential ownership group seeking to purchase a PEBA franchise and who may be targeting Crystal Lake.

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It’s no secret that Cuevas has been wildly unpopular with the fanbase since assuming control of the franchise.  Across the board ticket price increases of almost twenty percent, an all-time low payroll for the team, and an opening day pitch gone wrong from Cuevas punctuate his abbreviated time as owner.  Further, rumors of a fracture between Cuevas and minority owner Sydney C. Dole IV have intensified in recent weeks fueling the speculation that Cuevas is planning a rapid exit from the Gnats number one post.

 

Despite the tumultuous year off the field, the Gnats have performed well both in the standings and at the turnstiles with reports of record profits as a result of the steep price increases enacted under Cuevas’s watch.  When contacted by phone for comments, Gnats executives uniformly provided no comment regarding the developing ownership situation, but reports of front office executives actively undermining Cuevas’s authority run rampant.  Rival executives have even reported Gnats GM Brian Hazelwood negotiating trades and planning for free agent signings which may smash the previously established budgets of the Cuevas regime — perhaps just to spite him.  While some speculate Hazelwood is getting out in front of a potential ownership change, others suggest that he may be hatching his own escape plan for the coming off-season in the event Cuevas does not leave the franchise.

 

“There’s been a lot of GM movement in the league in recent months and behind closed doors, Hazelwood has repeatedly expressed an interest in assuming control of a franchise where he’s not hamstrung by ownership as he feels he has been in recent years,” was the comment received from a rival executive.

As the drama surrounding a potential shake-up in the Gnats front office continues to spin, the team enters a crucial stretch of games which may ultimately decide the fates of the personnel in charge as the players compete for a position in the post-season.  Both Hazelwood and Cuevas would undoubtedly like to go out on a winning note, with the franchise in excellent financial shape after conducting an on-the-fly rebuild.  The Daily Herald and Gnats Gnation will continue to monitor events as this developing situation builds to a crescendo in the coming weeks.