In an unusual partnership, the La Crosse Loggers (summer collegiate; Northwoods League) will underwrite the UW-La Crosse baseball program and work together on fundraising for Copeland Park improvements.
Finances has been an issue for the UW-La Crosse baseball program for years; the program was almost cut in 2009 and the coaches shifted to an unpaid status, and the athletic department has struggled to cover its costs. Under the agreement — which still needs to finalized with city approval — the Loggers will cover the yearly fundraising goals for the program, ensuring it will survive without being tied to the whims of the donor community.
In return, UW-La Crosse will assist the Loggers in raising funds to pay for proposed improvements to Copeland Park. The Loggers are looking at a variety of ballpark improvements with a total budget of $650,000, including installation of an artificial turf infield surface, addition of a video board, and construction of batting cages. The project will be funded entirely with private funds. In exchange for its fundraising assistance, UW-La Crosse could begin to play its home baseball schedule at Copeland Park, possibly as early as the 2013 season, contingent on the facility improvement timeline and final agreement with the city of La Crosse.
“Partnering with UW-L was an easy choice and then to couple that with enhancing the city-owned facility that is Copeland Park to make it an even more attractive place for baseball teams of our community to utilize is a great ‘win’ for everyone involved,” said Loggers owner Dan Kapanke.
Copeland Park is already one of the busiest ballparks in the state: besides hosting the Loggers, the facility hosts Viterbo College, Western Technical College, high-school and American Legion games — some 200 events annually.
“We’re thrilled to be entering into this unique partnership with the La Crosse Loggers,” said UW-La Crosse Chancellor Dr. Joe Gow. “When we were forced to eliminate state funding for baseball at UW-L several years ago, generous private donors kept our program alive. And now our partnership with the Loggers will take the program to even greater heights. This is a wonderful ‘turnaround’ story.”
It’s not quite a done deal: it’s all contingent on the Loggers reaching a new lease with the city for Copeland Park.
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