Waukesha, WI officials are debating a proposal from Big Top Baseball to field a team in the summer collegiate Northwoods League, with the club playing at Frame Park.
Discussions in Waukesha, a Milwaukee suburb, center on Frame Park, where an existing baseball field would be re-purposed into a 2,500-seat ballpark that includes amenities such as a videoboard, concessions, and hospitality areas. As part of the plan, Big Top Baseball would enter into a 20-year lease and pay the city $500,000 upfront, along with an $150,000 in rent and $25,000 for upgrades outside of the ballpark. This isn’t the first time a Northwoods League has been pitched for Frame Park, either.
Officials are hoping that if all goes well, the ballpark would open in time for the team to begin play in the 2019 Northwoods League season. City Administrator Kevin Lahner has said that discussions with Big Top Baseball last year, prompting some officials expressed concerns that the process is taking place in secrecy. And there is the continued debate over converting a quiet city park into a busy ballpark, as neighbors express apprehension about traffic and noise. More from The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel:
Ald. Kathleen Cummings led the charge in challenging Lahner’s talks with Big Top.
Cumings said she wasn’t aware of the talks and asked “Why wasn’t it brought up in the summer planning retreat? Usually, the council directs policy to say we would like you to move forward. Am I missing something?”
Aldermen Terry Thieme and Joe Piper countered Cummings, saying Lahner acted properly by opening talks and keeping officials in the know about the discussions.
Thieme said what Lahner did was no different than any other city staffer researching a potential economic development proposal prior to presenting it to the council.
Big Top Baseball owns and operates several clubs in the Northwoods League, including the Madison Mallards, Wisconsin Rapids Rafters, Kenosha Kingfish, and Green Bay Bullfrogs.