In the midst of another successful season, the summer collegiate Northwoods League could be poised for more growth in the future.
Across the league’s 18 teams, there has been continued success in terms of attendance, with the circuit becoming the first in the summer collegiate ranks to draw over 1 million fans back in 2014. Northwoods League clubs do a solid job of building promotions and other offerings that keep fans in markets across the Midwest–including some cities that once hosted professional baseball–interested in the product.
The Northwoods League’s model has intrigued several cities that are eyeing summer collegiate teams. Expansion is definitely on the agenda: Besides Bismarck, where a name-the-team contest has yielded a final slate of five, there is talk of teams in 2017 and/or 2018 in Minot (N.D.), Fond du Lac (Wis.) and Alexandria (Minn.).
If anything, the expansion is another sign that the league has come a long way since its humble origins. More from the Herald:
The Northwoods League founders weren’t sure how long it would last past its 1994 inception. Dick Radatz Jr., a former college player with operational and promotional experience in the minor leagues and with major league spring training in Florida, needed a job and wanted to stay in the sport. So he helped spawn the league with a $25,000 down payment that drained his savings. There were five teams then, two of which remain in operation in their original city.
“A little bit of inspiration and a little bit of desperation,” Radatz said. “In the early years we were robbing Peter to pay Paul. If you had a good night in Wausau you had to get that money down to Dubuque to pay those bills.”
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