An ownership change for the Wisconsin Rapids Rafters (summer collegiate; Northwoods League) is in the works, as founders Vern Stenman and Steve Schmitt agree in principal to transfer ownership of their Northwoods League affiliate to brothers Joe and Vince Fonti. The deal would be completed next month, pending Wisconsin Rapids City Council approval of a lease extension for Witter Field, along with approval of the transfer of the lease to the new group.
Rapids Rafters General Manager Andy Francis has come to terms on a two-year agreement to continue in his role overseeing the day-to-day management of the team. Team President, Vern Stenman, will continue in an advisory role with the club for the next two seasons as well.
Joe and Vince Fonti reside in Plover, WI and are the principles of Jo-Vin Baseball, LLC, which is the entity that will acquire the team. They, along with their brother Bill, are the majority owners of Furniture & ApplianceMart and a majority of the Ashley HomeStores in Wisconsin.
“We are excited to continue the tremendous baseball tradition in Wisconsin Rapids and to maintain and build upon the Rafters motto ‘where our community comes together’,” said Joe Fonti. “I have a passion for providing a great customer experience at our retail stores and I look forward to bringing that same passion for a great fan experience to Rafters games. As a Central Wisconsin resident for over 30 years, I am looking forward to giving back to the community that has supported my family.”
The next step for the transfer is consideration of the lease extension and transfer approval by the Wisconsin Rapids Finance Committee at its February 4 meeting. On February 18, the Rapids City Council will review the same.