The league has signed a lease with Northside Community Bank for the former home of the Rockford RiverHawks and Rockford Aviators (independent; Frontier League). As regular readers know, Northside Community Bank put the ballpark on the market earlier this year before pulling back on the sale, with a Northwoods League lease potentially playing a role in that decision. (Smart decision: the ballpark is worth more with a
The ballpark is technically located in suburban Loves Park, and the city has approved an alcohol and refreshments license for the Northwoods League.
Chad Bauer, who worked for years to bring the Northwoods League to Waukesha, Wis. and most recently was involved with the Lakeshore Chinooks, will run the team on behalf of the league. The league already owns two teams in the circuit: the Kalamazoo Growlers and the Battle Creek Bombers. Geographically, Rockford is a good match for the Northwoods League: it’s only 1.5 hours between Madison and Rockford, and it puts a team closer to the two Michigan teams.
It appears that a current Northwoods League team will cease operations in 2016 to make way for the new Rockford team. A Bismarck, N.D. team will launch for the 2017 season.
Meanwhile, it looks like the Frontier League’s Aviators will live on in a different market, as team owner Dr. Chris Hanners is reportedly exploring an option for the 2016 season.