A proposal to place a new Waukesha ballpark in the city’s Frame Park for a summer-collegiate Northwoods League team is not moving forward, as Big Top Baseball and city officials pull the plug on the public/private endeavor.
The proposal from Big Top Baseball — which operates the Madison Mallards, Kenosha Kingfish, Wisconsin Rapids Rafters and the Green Bay Bullfrogs — called for a new $4.7 million ballpark in waterfront Frame Park. Waukesha officials saw the new ballpark as a way to stimulate economic activity in the area, proposing the creation of a new TIF district to partially fund the ballpark; opponents saw a ballpark as being incongruous with the current Frame Park usage. This was the second attempt by city officials to lure a Northwoods League team to a new Frame Park ballpark.
The end to talks about a new ballpark was announced by the city in a statement:
The proposal to construct enhancements to the Frame Park baseball field through a public/private partnership is not going forward at this time. We appreciate the input and effort from all the individuals who provided their opinions on this important issue to the City of Waukesha staff and elected officials.
We intend to continue exploring redevelopment efforts in the Whiterock Avenue/East Main Street corridor, and will review redevelopment plans, the possible formation of a Tax Increment Finance District and other opportunities in this area.
In a separate statement, Big Top Baseball said that community opposition was one factor in withdrawing the proposal:
“We would like to thank the city of Waukesha staff and common council for discussing our proposal,” Big Top Chief Operating Officer Conor Caloia and President Vern Stenman said in a statement. “Historically, our franchises and venues have united communities. Unfortunately, this idea was more divisive than we like to see. Therefore, we are going to pause on moving forward with a formal presentation to the council at this time.
“We want to be in communities where the residents and elected officials share our vision. We are lucky to have communities across the state of Wisconsin welcoming us with open arms and are excited to continue to bring our brand of affordable, family entertainment to those communities.”