A proposed summer-collegiate Northwoods League ballpark in Waukesha, WI took a step forward this week, as the city’s finance committee recommended the project by a 5-0 margin.
For the past several months, Big Top Baseball and Waukesha have been discussing a proposal for Mindiola Park, which calls for the construction of a 2,500-seat ballpark that would house a new team in the Northwoods League. The ballpark would be built as part of a $12-million project that includes new youth soccer fields, with Waukesha backing its financial contribution through the extension of an existing tax increment financing district. The ballpark would be designed to host a variety of other events in addition to summer-collegiate baseball, including soccer.
That proposal took a step forward on Tuesday, when the city’s finance committee voted 5-0 to recommend the project for approval by the full common council. The current framework of the proposal calls for the city and Big Top to enter into a 15-year lease, starting in the ballpark’s inaugural 2020 season. More from the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel:
Under the deal, the city would pay up to $11.5 million for construction of the complex, with Big Top contributing $500,000. Most of the city’s portion would be financed through the extension of a tax-increment-financing district that began with the construction of the Shoppes at Fox River nearly a decade ago.
According to city documents, the TIF district would generate $1.7 million in new taxes annually, allowing the debt to be retired in seven years — still within the statutory limits of the district, which otherwise had been expected to close early, sometime between 2019 and 2022.
Assuming the project is complete within the contract’s prescribed timeline, Big Top Baseball would begin leasing the city-owned facility in 2020, the first in a 15-year commitment with annual payments starting at $150,000 and increasing 1 percent every year.
Prior to discussions on Mindiola Park, Big Top Baseball and Waukesha had mulled the construction of a new ballpark at Frame Park, but the two sides pulled the plug on that proposal in February, with public opposition to using the park a factor in that decision. Details on the Mindiola Park proposal surfaced in March. Big Top Baseball currently operates the Madison Mallards, Kenosha Kingfish, Wisconsin Rapids Rafters and the Green Bay Bullfrogs.
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