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Champaign to study ballpark issues

Minor League BaseballElected officials in Champaign are forming a committee to study potential ballpark and baseball funding issue in the Illinois city, and indications are that they’d be looking at an affiliated team after exploring indy ball in the past.

Mayor Don Gerard says he’ll appoint an exploratory committee to look at baseball and ballpark-financing issues, including the potential of working with a developer and how to bring in a team without permanent city subsidies. He’s even got a site picked out, right on I-74. Champaign has hosted independent baseball in the past, and at one point the University of Illinois was working with the independent Frontier League on a ballpark expansion contingent on a new team.

There are, of course, several options for pro ball in Champaign. First, the Champaign-Urbana market is certainly large enough to support affiliated Class A baseball (Champaign County alone has a population over 185,000, and the general three-county Champaign-Urbana market is larger) in the form of a Midwest League team. (There doesn’t seem to a territorial issue with the Peoria Chiefs.) Given the proximity of other American Association teams in the Chicago area, that circuit would seem to be a possibility as well. Given Gerard’s intent to build something “more substantial” than the Corn Crib in nearby Normal, we’re guessing the Frontier League isn’t a strong contender for a team out of the gates. 

Of course, this all can change once costs and revenue streams are estimated.


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