Waukesha, WI officials continue to debate a proposal for a new summer-collegiate Northwoods League team and ballpark at Frame Park, with the financial implications being a key sticking point.
Under a proposal from Big Top Baseball, an existing baseball field at Frame Park would be converted into a 2,500-seat ballpark that includes videoboard, concessions, expanded seating and hospitality areas. If it comes to fruition, the proposed new ballpark would become home to a summer collegiate Northwoods League team in Waukesha, a suburb of Milwaukee.
The ballpark would cost $4.7 million, with Big Top Baseball paying $500,000 upfront and then $150,000 annually over the life of a 20-year lease. In addition, the group would pay for field maintenance as well as $25,000 for upgrades outside of the ballpark. While this is not the first time a Northwoods League facility and team have been pitched for Frame Park, the proposal has been controversial in some circles, with residents concerned over the use of the park for a summer collegiate team and ballpark, as well as its potential to bring traffic, parking, and noise issues to the surrounding area.
Some of those concerns were expressed at a public meeting earlier this week, but Waukesha officials noted that they are intrigued by the economic development benefits the plan could provide. More from The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel:
City Administrator Kevin Lahner said one major aspect of the city’s interest in upgrading the Frame Park field and leasing it for $150,000 annually in a public/private partnership deal is the role it would play in several city goals.
For one, the plan could help generate the hoped-for redevelopment of Whiterock Avenue and East Main Street in the years ahead and economic development in general.
The new stadium would also generate nontax revenue, a goal the city has in mind to offset tax-oriented limits imposed under state laws in recent years.
“Creating nontax revenues is a particular challenge that cities face on a regular basis,” Lahner said. “We have to deal with things like revenue caps and tax caps from the state Legislature.”
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.