Planning and construction of a new downtown ballpark for the Beloit Snappers (Low A; Midwest League) is delayed, creating uncertainty in the time of the COVID-19 pandemic and negotiations for a new Professional Baseball Agreement between MLB and MiLB that will change the sport.
Construction work on the new $32-million ballpark from Hendricks Commercial Properties was slated to start April 30, but that date’s been pushed back to late May or early June. Most construction in Wisconsin has been defined as an essential activity and exempt from the state’s stay-at-home rules, so in theory work could begin on any point. The fact that there might not be a Snappers season means Quint Studer, who signed a management deal to run the team in 2020, would bear the losses of a season sans play. (Studer previously made a pitch to buy the team from its community-based ownership, but the transfer was denied in the wake of potential contraction.) Studer is an experienced MiLB entrepreneur as owner of the Pensacola Blue Wahoos (Class AA; Southern League).
That the Snappers need a new ballpark to survive really isn’t in question: It was one of the 42 teams initially identified for contraction in 2019, and while MLB has been cagey about the current list of contraction targets, a new facility to replace Pohlman Field is undoubtedly key to the market retaining pro baseball. From the Beloit Daily News:
Prospective Snappers owner Quint Studer conceded that 2020 “will be one of financial loss” due to the delay or potential postponement of the MiLB and Major League Baseball (MLB) seasons from COVID-19.
“The financial losses are taking place with all minor league teams,” Studer said. “Our management agreement has us responsible for any loses. We accept that, and look forward to a long relationship in Beloit.”…
The ownership transfer of the team to Studer is on hold until both leagues reach a deal on the Professional Baseball Agreement (PBA), something Studer said could result in the MLB overseeing MiLB “more directly than they currently do.”
“My understanding is that those cities that are provided an affiliated franchise will be chose on stadium quality, especially player amenities, location and quality of ownership,” Studer said.
The proposed ballpark will feature a grandstand with administrative offices and player facilities, concessions and restrooms, 360-degree concourse, a center-field outdoor group areas, a kids’ play area and a 300+-capacity stadium club that can be used year-round. The main concourse will wrap 360 degrees around the field and features a main entry gate at center field. Outdoor group areas will be located in left field and right field with a kid’s playground and inflatable area planned for the outfield concourse. An artificial-turf field would allow for uses other than professional baseball.
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