Marshals kicked out of hotel amid unpaid bills charged to former owner | New
Rapid City Marshals were ordered to pack up and leave their hotel last week due to unpaid bills.
Multiple sources confirmed to the Journal that around 11 a.m. Thursday morning, Marshals players were told by staff at the GrandStay Residential Suites on Disk Drive to vacate the property. The hotel evicted the players after several weeks of unpaid bills from Pick Six Entertainment, the team’s former owner.
Team members were left without a home four days before their final home game of the regular season, scheduled for Monday.
Marshals head coach Dante Dudley said he and his staff have been scrambling to help find a temporary home for his players amid another instance of unrest during their inaugural season, caused by the founding ownership group.
“It was heartbreaking,” Dudley said. “I live here and I’ve never had a house under me. This part is difficult because we don’t have a front office in place. Wes (Johnson) and Rebecca (Chapman) bust their butts every way they can. It was a blow because all we were told was that everything was taken care of.
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Johnson and Chapman purchased the team from Pick Six Entertainment earlier this month and are taking full control of the Marshals on August 1.
Since then, multiple sources have described unpaid wages, bounced checks and said they were unable to reach Pick Six owner Keith Russ. Additionally, Tel Koan, the former operator of the Marshals franchise, resigned from his stake in Pick Six on May 10 and said he had not been involved in the issues of the past few weeks.
“I reached out to Keith and had a few conversations with him,” Johnson said. “I was just expecting them a bit because it’s still their organization right now. Then things hadn’t happened, so we did what we could to fill in the gaps.
The duo from Gillette, Wyoming have been trying to create a sense of stability within the organization, even though they don’t yet have a contractual obligation to do so.
“I’m not going to let players sleep in cars,” Johnson said. “They have to have a roof over their heads, so we’re going to do whatever we have to do. We’ve also come to an agreement with the players on the wage bill and making sure they get paid so they can play.
Dudley and his family were preparing for his daughter’s graduation on Thursday when he received calls from players an hour before the event. Due to the circumstances, he said he couldn’t really focus on celebrating his daughter, but was worried about accommodating 20 out-of-town players.
“I don’t want to make things any worse than they already are, but Pick Six Entertainment is definitely responsible for the turmoil,” Dudley said. “I want to reiterate that Wes and Rebecca went above and beyond, they could have said ‘it’s not our problem until next year’, but they have a heart of gold.”
Dudley and Johnson gave players the option to leave the team this weekend, but only Jake Johnson, L’Herisson Fontilisse Jr., LaBarron Mallory and DeVonte Tinsley were released this weekend.
“It says a lot about the leadership of the team too, with Shea Roberts, Antwan Smith and Demetrius Davis,” Dudley said. “We have guys who stay in communication with their teammates and keep everyone’s head above water. It’s been tough on all of us, but having team leadership helps a lot.
Johnson has doubled down on his commitment to weather the storm and give Rapid City fans an organization they can be proud of.
“What we’re doing right now is a testament,” Johnson said. “It’s not our responsibility right now. I have to be clear that we’re not contractually obligated, but we want it to be here as much as the community wants it to be here.”
The Marshals return to the field at 7 p.m. Monday night for a Memorial Day game with Omaha Beef at Summit Arena in their regular-season home finale.
“It’s been a really tough year for all of us,” Dudley said. “My goal was that if I started something, I was going to finish it. The fans need to know that we have enough guys here who want to finish it and the team hasn’t changed that much.
Contact Alex Dodd at [email protected]