As they pursue a lease extension with the city, prospective new owners of the Wisconsin Rapids Rafters (summer collegiate; Northwoods League) are mapping out upgrades to Witter Field.
Last week, it was announced that Rafters founders Vern Stenman and Steve Schmitt had agreed in principal to transfer ownership of their Northwoods League affiliate to brothers Joe and Vince Fonti. The deal could be completed this month, if the Wisconsin Rapids City Council approves a lease extension for Witter Field, along with approval of the transfer of the lease to the new group.
Ballpark upgrades are among the plans that the Fontis would have for the team, with the improvements to address a variety of areas. The addition of more premium seating could be part of that strategy in the future, but the more immediate focus is on expanding the Point Craft River group area, installing padding behind home plate, and upgrading an existing home plate club. More from WSAU.com:
“We are planning on adding to the home plate club area,” said Francis. “There has been a waiting list for some time to get into that area, so part of it is to [allow] those fans the unique experience at Witter Field.”
The home plate club area was added eight years ago and currently seats 44 fans on eleven tables. The proposal calls for the addition of four tables (16 seats).
In addition to the premium seating, Francis says the renovations will add padding to the backstop to improve player safety for everyone who plays at Witter including high school and legion players.
The Point Craft River area would also be expanded to include a raised deck that would add about 40 seats. Francis says since that area was introduced roughly five years ago, it’s been sold out for nearly every weekend game.
Baseball has been played at Witter Field since 1928, with the current grandstand dating back to 1950 and the Rafters having made a number of improvements to the ballpark since they arrived in 2010.
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