The summer-collegiate Northwoods League is returning to Dubuque (Iowa), as a local booster club, the nonprofit Dubuque Area Youth Baseball and Softball Club, announced plans to procure a team and build a $5.5-million ballpark for the 2019 season.
The proposed 30-acre, five-diamond complex will be located between Derby Grange Road and Asbury Plaza. The Dubuque Mud Puppies was one of the original five Northwoods League teams in 1994, but the team struggled at Petrakis Park and eventually moved to St. Cloud, Minn. Since then the Dubuque Fighting Saints have been a success in the USHL, and Dubuque Area Youth Baseball and Softball Club officials say they’re using that success as a blueprint for a Northwoods League team. From the Dubuque Telegraph-Herald:
“The Fighting Saints are a perfect example of, if you have the right organization that’s well run, people will get behind it and support it, not only as fans but from a financial standpoint,” [said Keith Rahe, the president and CEO of Dubuque Convention & Visitors Bureau]. “It’s great entertainment and another thing to do to enhance the community.”…
“We’ve both changed a lot since then. Dubuque has changed, and obviously, we’ve changed,” said Dick Radatz Jr., the chairman of the Northwoods League. “We were kind of in our embryotic stage at that point, and we were still trying to figure ourselves out. Obviously, we’ve grown substantially since then, and our business model has proven itself.
“Nothing against Petrakis because it has served a purpose to the community for many, many years. But we wouldn’t consider a venue like that now. It was necessary at the time, but it’s awfully difficult to create the kind of minor league environment you need to make this work from a business standpoint.”
The announcement was timed as a jump-start to fund raising for the new ballpark complex. And since we’re more than two years out, it’s too soon to say whether the league will be adding a second team or shifting an existing team. This season sees the circuit expanding to 20 teams with the addition of the Bismarck Larks and the Fond du Lac Dock Spiders.