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Northwoods League eyes westward expansion

Northwoods LeagueNorthwoods League President Dick Radatz, Jr. confirms his interest in putting a team in Bismarck Municipal Ballpark after renovations are completed, as the circuit explores a westward expansion.

Currently the summer-collegiate Northwoods League is centralized in Minnesota and Wisconsin, with single teams in Michigan, Iowa and Ontario. While there are expansion opportunities in the existing footprint — a Kenosha team is a go for 2014, and there were talks to bring a team to Kalamazoo as well — it would seem that if the league is to reach 20 teams, it needs to look outside Minnesota and Wisconsin.

Enter Bismarck, where city officials recently decided to spend $1.5 million on improvements to the historic Bismarck Municipal Stadium. The ballpark needed improvements anyway, but the projected changes — like upgraded seating, concessions and bathrooms — makes it ideal for a summer-collegiate league. From the Bismarck Tribune:

The Northwoods League had considered Bismarck in the past, but the $1.5 million renovation project at Municipal Park has made the Capital City a much more appealing option, according to league president Dick Radatz, Jr.

“We’ve never really come very close before, but Bismarck has been on our radar,” Radatz said. “But obviously with the improvements with the ballpark, it has advanced our interests.”…

Bismarck is a little more than four hours from the nearest league city (Alexandria), which is doable; Battle Creek is more than four hours from Mequon, Wi., so there’s some precedent. But it also makes sense to look at other options for expansion; oil money has made North Dakota a boom area, and cities like Jamestown (where historic Jack Brown Stadium is located) and Grand Forks, would seem to be naturals. Similarly, cities like Aberdeen and Huron have existing facilities formerly hosting pro baseball.

RELATED STORIES: Bismarck Municipal Ballpark to be renovated this summer; Satchel Paige, Bismarck and Lawrence-Dumont Stadium


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