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Frontier League pitched for Jackson, Michigan

Frontier LeagueA feasibility study is underway to determine whether Jackson, a city in central Michigan west of Ann Arbor and south of Lansing, can support a new ballpark and independent Frontier League baseball.

The $15,000 study, commissioned by Experience Jackson and the Jackson County Visitors Bureau and awarded to AECOM and the Rooney Sports & Entertainment Group of Pennsylvania, is designed to determine whether there’s enough interest in the region to support professional baseball. The argument from organizers: Jackson is a baseball hotbed, and they think a $8-$12-million ballpark for an independent Frontier League team is viable. Dan DuBois, a local businessman spearheading the effort, is keen on a Frontier League team:

The franchise fee for joining the Frontier League, DuBois said, is roughly $800,000.

“You don’t want to go to a league that’s been around for a year, build a stadium and have them go out,” DuBois said. “They’ve been around for 20 years, they’ve been proven and they’re heavily scouted by the major leagues as it is. I think it’s an interesting fit potentially for Jackson County.”…

The online survey is a way to gauge interest from fans as well as businesses willing to invest. There would be a crowdsourcing drive to raise funds in smaller amounts that would allow individuals to become minority owners in the team. DuBois said about $1 million would be needed from that source to buy the team while the rest of the money for the stadium would come through larger investments that include naming rights and sponsorships.

But there’s considerably more baseball in the area than presented here. Besides the Lansing Lugnuts (Low Class A; Midwest League), the summer-collegiate Northwoods League has two nearby well-run teams — the Kalamazoo Growlers and the Battle Creek Bombers — that were both very successful in 2014. But while Jackson itself is small (some 33,000 residents), Jackson County has a robust population of 160,248.


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