With the 2020 Professional Baseball Agreement (PBA) negotiations on the horizon, Minor League Baseball President/CEO Pat O’Conner says there’s “momentum” behind a new ballpark for the Beloit Snappers (Low A; Midwest League).
The condition of Pohlman Field, the team’s current home, is certainly on MLB’s radar, and in past years O’Conner has warned the Board of Directors of the Beloit Professional Baseball Association that the ballpark deficiencies need to be addressed. It’s expected that Major League Baseball will seek to define a baseline ballpark specification that has more teeth than the current ballpark specification — or at least a spec that can’t easily waived. This means there is the very real possibility Beloit could lose the Snappers franchise if a new ballpark isn’t in the works.
At the luncheon today hosted by the Board of Directors and attended by local business leaders, O’Conner reiterated the need for a Pohlman Field replacement. “Snappers baseball hinges greatly on this community,” he said, “From now on, what it’s going to take is a broad base of community support to make this decision.”
Before the luncheon, O’Conner and Midwest League President Dick Nussbaum gauged support for a new ballpark with community leaders. “This morning, I saw a glimmer of hope. I was very impressed with the breadth and the depth of work that has been done,” O’Conner said. “I think there is momentum.”
There has been some turmoil in the Snappers front office, with Dennis Conerton removed as president in December 2016. His replacement, Mark Mascharka, stepped down after only two months on the job, with Conerton returning as president. There have been offers to buy the team from Brian Christianson, who would keep the team in the area. The market is not amongst MiLB’s healthiest: the Rock County (WI) MSA is only 160,331, and the largest city isn’t Beloit, but rather neighboring Janesville. There have been some economic signs of life in Beloit in recent years in terms of downtown development, but the whole area is still reeling from an economic slowdown accelerated by the closing of the Janesville GM plant in 2008.
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