With no new ballpark likely for the Beloit Snappers (Low Class A; Midwest League) and some offseason issues for the Rockford RiverHawks (independent; Frontier League), we could see changes in the region in upcoming years.
It’s no secret that the Snappers have ballpark issues; the condition of Pohlman Field has been a topic in league circles, and the team’s attendance (only 1,013 fans a game in 2012, down slightly from 2011) is near the bottom of all of Class A ball, ahead of only the Burlington Bees (Low Class A; Midwest League) and the Bakersfield Blaze (High Class A; California League). Several efforts at a new ballpark have fallen through, and some in Beloit are calling for some sort of decision to be made on the future of baseball in the city, whether it be a new ballpark (doubtful), upgrades to Pohlman Field (possible, but perhaps not enough) or a sale of the team.
One thing to note: through there’s always been a buzz around the Snappers as being a possible acquisition target, we’re not so sure anyone has ever approached management and presented a real, solid offer to buy the team. Chatter and initial inquiries don’t equal a serious offer.
In Rockford, we’re seeing some front-office layoffs, and the team doesn’t have a lease for RiverHawks Stadium for 2013; a new bank reportedly holds the note on the ballpark after an August auction. Layoffs in the front office in recent weeks also point to some possible changes as well.
One possible solution in both situations: the summer-collegiate Northwoods League, which already has a strong presence in Madison. The summer-collegiate model would seem to be well-suited for both, with a 36-game schedule running through the prime of the summer — June, July and early August. (Yes, we know there’s already a summer-collegiate team in Rockford, but the Foresters don’t seem to have made a big impact in the city, averaging only 332 fans a game in 2012.) We don’t foresee any changes in the league lineup for 2013, but 2014 is sooner than you think: Kenosha officials have already approved funding for Simmons Field upgrades, with the goal to have a field on the team in 2014. But you never know, and sometimes things happen sooner than you anticipate.
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