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New Upper Midwest summer-collegiate league forming?

Ballpark DigestA group representing the startup Great Midwest League has approached New Ulm (Minn.) city officials about placing a summer-collegiate league in that city.

New Ulm is a baseball hotbed in Minnesota — former Twin Terry Steinbach grew up there — but it’s a little on the smallish side and slightly larger than the smallest market in the Northwoods League, Alexandria. Still, New Ulm is the place where league organizers decided to start their efforts for league homes. They foresee the league placing teams in Minnesota, Iowa, Nebraska, North Dakota and South Dakota and are angling for a 2014 launch. From the New Ulm Journal:

Teams proposed in Minnesota besides New Ulm include Marshall, Austin, Winona, Shakopee, Moorhead, Brainerd and Hibbing.

They are looking at a 48-to-50-game schedule with 24-to-25 of them at home….

“Our goal is to be an asset to the city that it calls home and be a quality sports entertainment for the citizens of all ages from all of the area,” [Park and Recreation Director Tom] Schmitz said.

These are all fairly small markets, and there’s certainly some overlap with the much more established Northwoods League, which has worked for several years to place a team in Shakopee and had teams pull out of Austin and Brainerd over the years. There’s also a facilities issue: Presumably teams would be playing out of small town-ball facilities (again, Austin, Hibbing and Brainerd are the only cities with former pro/summer-collegiate facilities), which would be a challenge as well. Now, there are a lot of markets in North Dakota and South Dakota with former minor-league facilities — Bismarck, Huron, Jamestown, Aberdeen — but those are states where the Northwoods League has made inquiries.


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