With RiverHawks Stadium now controlled by an Illinois bank after a bankruptcy auction, Rockford (Ill.) officials are looking at sprucing up Marinelli Field to attract indy ball and youth tournaments.
Marinelli Field was the longtime home to pro baseball in Rockford, hosting the likes of the Rockford Reds (Low Class A; Midwest League) before the original Rockford RiverHawks (independent; Frontier League) set up shop there; eventually RiverHawks ownership built a new ballpark in suburban Loves Park. That effort didn’t end well: the ballpark was seized by creditors and put up for auction.
The bank holding the ballpark doesn’t seem too eager to sell it and has been soliciting bids for a team to play there in 2013, but there’s a distinct lack of enthusiasm among potential lessors. Which brings Rockford proper back into the equation: since the RiverHawks left, Marinelli has been left to decay despite a summer-collegiate team playing there. Officials estimate it would take some serious work on the playing field and upgrades to the clubhouses to make it appropriate for pro ball; the Park District is reportedly on board, and city officials — who would need to pay for the improvements — are looking to be supportive as well. In Rockford, two scenarios are being floated: the Frontier League’s Rockford team would return, or an American Association travel team would play a portion of its games there. (The American Association currently sits at an odd number of teams; to avoid oddball schedules like the one played under in 2012 the league would add a travel/Rockford team.)
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