Preliminary details have emerged on a proposed new Beloit Snappers (Low A; Midwest League) ballpark, as project backers work to finalize plans for the downtown facility.
Last week, it was revealed that the Snappers are being sold to Quint Studer, a native of nearby Janesville and owner of the Pensacola Blue Wahoos (Class AA; Southern League). A sale to Studer, which is not finalized, would be part of plans to build a new downtown ballpark that will be located on a seven-acre city-owned property off Shirland Avenue, between the Rock River and Beloit Transfer Facility near the Beloit City Hall building.
Further details on the project were discussed during a Beloit City Council meeting on Monday, including information on cost estimate, amenities, and a potential timeline. Currently estimated to cost $34.2 million, the privately financed ballpark would be a 5,000-capacity facility that includes a 200-300 person event venue available for year-round use. Should all of the approvals fall into place, the facility could open as early as the 2021 season. Project officials, including Studer, emphasized that the facility would be part of an effort to bring more economic activity to downtown Beloit on a year-round basis. More from the Beloit Daily News:
In seven years, Studer said Pensacola’s downtown tax base grew from $675 million to $918 million, while property values downtown continue to rise.
“It’s not that there wasn’t any development already happening, but this just seems to be the catalyst that pushed it over the top,” Studer said. “There’s never been a downtown stadium that hasn’t done well at the minor league level.”
[Hendricks Commercial Properties Senior Vice President of Development John] Gackstetter said the stadium would be downtown Beloit’s “next step” in offering a “flexible entertainment venue.”
There are still several hurdles that have to be cleared. Any construction work is pending a environmental impact study on the site, which has a history of industrial uses that include a manufacturing gas plant and a sewer treatment facility. In addition, various approval are needed at the city level, including an agreement pertaining to the site. For now, city officials have not determined whether that could come in the form of a long-term lease or outright sale to the Riverbend Stadium Authority. (Speaking of the Riverbend Stadium Authority: the nonprofit does not yet exist.)
The sale of the Snappers is also still contingent upon approval of the Midwest League and Minor League Baseball (and, technically, by Major League Baseball, which never opposed franchise sales). The Snappers would be owned by Studer Entertainment and Retail. 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 Pohlman Field. That is an important area for the team given that the upcoming 2020 Professional Baseball Agreement (PBA), which has not been finalized, is expected to impose stricter facility standards that ultimately put the franchise’s future in Beloit in question.
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