Urgency is being expressed by the Midwest League on discussions for a new Beloit Snappers ballpark, as talks to replace Pohlman Field are still ongoing.
In late August of last year, the Snappers signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) that could ultimately facilitate a sale of the franchise and a new ballpark in downtown Beloit. That announcement came at a timely point for the Snappers, as the Beloit Professional Baseball Association had been on notice from Minor League Baseball that Pohlman Field was not an acceptable long-term home for the team. While it has not been finalized to this point, the upcoming 2020 Professional Baseball Agreement (PBA) is expected to impose stricter facility standards, leaving questions about the franchise’s future at Pohlman Field.
Discussions pertaining to the effort that includes the sale and new ballpark are continuing, but have not progressed as quickly as was previously hoped, and there’s currently a funding gap of $3 million or so between community contributions (including a previously announced gift from Wisconsin businessperson Diane Hendricks, originally made by her late husband, Ken) and the minimum cost of the downtown ballpark project. Seeking to underscore the urgency of moving forward with a plan to secure the Snappers’ future in Beloit, Midwest League president Dick Nussbaum recently emphasized the need for those discussions to accelerate. Although he said there is not a drop-dead deadline for those talks, Nussbaum wanted it to be understood that “time is of the essence.” More from the Beloit Daily News:
“This is my fifth year as president of the league,” Nussbaum said. “And I have put more effort into keeping this team in Beloit than I have on any other issue that I’ve addressed. My hope is that the team will stay in Beloit. But I need some help. And that’s got to come from the city, the Snappers board, and the business community. I’m not saying there haven’t been good-faith efforts to get it done, but it hasn’t materialized yet.
“If there’s any message that I want to give the community, it’s to say that it’s not too late, but time is of the essence.”…
“There’s not a drop-dead date,” Nussbaum said. “There were timetables that were provided to us by the club, and those timetables were not met despite their best efforts. My last conversation with the people in Beloit was that they were still trying to work something out. The door is not closed for that, but it’s really important it gets done soon. Two things would help: Last year there was an increase in attendance in Beloit, which was a good sign. If the fans would continue that trend, that would be a big help. And second, if people in the business community would take a hard look at it, and be willing to work with others to provide the resources necessary to make a new stadium happen.”
Snappers president Dennis Conerton said the club is still hoping an agreement can be reached.
A new downtown Beloit ballpark has been pitched as a way to further investment in the area, while simultaneously resolving the facility issues that have faced the Snappers at the aging Pohlman Field.
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