Wausau’s Athletic Park could be poised for another round of renovations, as Wisconsin Woodchucks (summer collegiate; Northwoods League) ownership pitches a $1.5 million slate of upgrades.
As proposed by Woodchucks owner Mark Macdonald, the renovations to Athletic Park would be primarily concentrated on the ballpark’s first base side. The plans call for the installation of covered, premium social seating, along with a new dugout, and two concession stands. In addition to that package of privately financed renovations, the Macdonald Foundation would donate $119,000 toward the completion of a lighting upgrade.
Under the current timeline, the renovation project would begin in August at the conclusion of the 2020 season and be completed in time for the 2021 campaign. Various city approvals are needed before the project could move forward, and it took a step forward this week following an OK from the economic development committee. More from the Wausau Daily Herald:
An agreement on those terms was approved by the economic development committee at its Tuesday meeting. Specific design and construction plans await approval from the full City Council and the historic preservation commission, as some renovations involve removing a historic wall.
Gary Gisselman, the alderman who represents the district including Athletic Park, doesn’t want to see that wall knocked down. That’s why he voted against the renovations at two city meetings this week, he told a Wausau Daily Herald reporter. Gisselman also chairs the historic preservation commission and works at the Marathon County Historical Society.
The wall in question was made with red granite during the federal Works Progress Administration, a New Deal-era agency, and is of historic significance, he said. Gisselman supported past renovations at Athletic Park and generally agrees with the next round of upgrades, but said he’s opposed to changing the red granite wall since it’s a historic landmark in the city.
According to a term sheet for the renovations, the city is responsible for having new outfield lights installed, but it will not pay for the lighting, Macdonald said. The $119,000 cost will be covered by a donation from the Macdonald Foundation, he said.
The Woodchucks will also be working with the city to secure new parking in the area around Athletic Park. Should this round of upgrades move forward, it would mark the fourth phase of renovations to Athletic Park that began in August 2013. Our own Kevin Reichard visited Athletic Park in 2018, noting how the renovations have led to an improved fan experience at the ballpark.
“All the renovations at Athletic Park have been with the goal of creating a valuable community asset,” Mark Macdonald said in a press statement. “The renovated Athletic Park is a facility that is attractive to families and groups looking for a place to meet and socialize. Even the fans that are not big baseball fans can enjoy the new Athletic Park.”
Rendering courtesy Wisconsin Woodchucks.