The Common Council approved a contract last night to build a new Waukesha ballpark for a Northwoods League team in the Wisconsin city, paving the way for an addition to the 2019 summer-collegiate-league lineup.
The operators of the new Waukesha team / ballpark leaseholders will be Big Top Baseball (which operates four Northwoods League teams — Madison, Kenosha, Wisconsin Rapids and Green Bay) and Jim Kacmarcik, an owner of the Lakeshore Chinooks in the Northwoods League.
Passage by the city council was expected after the city’s finance committee voted 5-0 last week to recommend the project for approval by the full common council.
An existing TIF will be expanded to cover the Mindiola Park development, with infrastructure improvements funded by TIF proceeds. This is expected to generate $12 million for the ballpark and other Mindiola Park improvements.
The agreement calls for a 15-year lease (with renewal options) on a Mindiola Park ballpark with 2,500 fixed seats, a hospitality space, concessions, restrooms, retail/office space, synthetic turf suitable for both baseball and soccer, a grass berm and press box, opening in 2019. Besides a new Northwoods League team, the ballpark would also be home to Carroll University and the two Waukesha high-school teams.
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.
With the addition of a Waukesha team, Milwaukee is rapidly becoming a very diverse baseball market. The aforementioned Lakeshore Chinooks already play in a Milwaukee suburb, while the independent American Association is adding a Franklin team to the mix in 2019 as well. The Waukesha and Franklin ballparks will be less than 20 miles apart.
RELATED STORIES: Mindiola Park Project Could Eventually Expand; Waukesha Ballpark Pitch Moves Forward; Waukesha Ballpark Talks Shift to New Site; New Waukesha Ballpark is Not Moving Forward; Waukesha Continues to Debate Northwoods League Pitch; Waukesha Mulls Northwoods League Team, New Ballpark