The effort to fund a new Beloit Snappers (Low A; Midwest League) ballpark is moving to the state level, as team owners are seeking Wisconsin economic development incentives.
Although some steps have been taken, plans to replace Pohlman Field have yet to come to fruition. 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. 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.
To help shore up funding for a new ballpark project, Snappers ownership has tabbed a pair of lobbyists to push for funding from a newly created program in the state budget, which has not been approved by Wisconsin governor Tony Evers but has cleared both legislative chambers. Funding from this program would not cover the entirety of the project, but could provide millions of dollars toward the final cost. More from the Beloit Daily News:
The Snappers could ask the state for around $2 million to $3 million in funding that would include major private investment for the project, according to a source familiar with the effort who spoke to the Beloit Daily News on condition of anonymity.
The mechanism used by the team to net public funds would come through a newly-established building program in the state budget that’s yet to be signed by Gov. Tony Evers, but has passed both chambers of the Wisconsin Legislature.
The “Non-State Local Project Grant Program” included in the state capital budget would provide $25 million of general fund supported borrowing to establish a grant program to assist facility construction of non-state organizations, but require municipalities to apply for funding on behalf of the requesting organization. According to the budget item, the state would provide no more than $5 million of the total cost of the local project. The state building commission would select grant recipients and amounts, including a “finding of public purpose” before awarding funding, according to the motion.
Beloit City Manager Lori Curtis Luther said if the state budget is approved to include the public funding mechanism, she would bring the matter to the Beloit City Council to let councilors “carefully review the option.”
It has not been finalized yet, but the upcoming 2020 Professional Baseball Agreement (PBA) is expected to impose stricter facility standards, leaving questions about the Snappers’ future at Pohlman Field and adding urgency to discussions about a new ballpark.
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