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Northwoods League Frame Park Proposal Faces Legal Challenges

Northwoods League

As discussion over the plan continues, Waukesha, WI officials are working to rebut concerns from legal challenges over a proposed Northwoods League ballpark at Frame Park .

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 a 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.

Thus far, the proposal has been controversial among some residents and groups, and The Friends of Frame Park and the Frame family have challenged the plan. They have argued that deed restrictions should prevent the proposed lease agreement from moving forward, but the city has argued that the plan as proposed is still consistent with baseball field uses. In addition, officials have started investigating whether the land that the existing baseball field occupies is subject to those deed restrictions.

In addition, The Friends of Frame Park has made the argument that leasing part of the park to Big Top Baseball would in fact violate state law. As they continue to sort through the merits of the proposal, including its financial model, city officials are looking to address these concerns. More from The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel:

Also, city officials recently began looking into the possibility that the land the ballpark sits on may not be among the parcels donated by Andrew and Emma Frame a century ago. The park consists of several parcels, some of which the city purchased and some of which have no deed restrictions.

City Attorney Brian Running recently told aldermen the city is conducting a title search and study to confirm the ballpark’s historic standing.

Adding to the complicated legal issues is whether the city can even allow public land to be used by a private business. The Frame lawsuit was amended in January to address that question.

The Friends group has argued the Wisconsin Public Use doctrine should bar the city from leasing any part of the park to Big Top Waukesha and its plan for a Northwoods League team.

Estimates have placed the ballpark’s cost at $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. 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.

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