Some familiar names involved in the sale of the summer-collegiate Kenosha Kingfish (Northwoods League) from Big Top Baseball to Bill Fanning and Mike Zoellner for the 2022 season.
Fanning and Zoellner have been close friends since meeting in the first grade and played college baseball together. Fanning then launched a career in professional baseball with stops in Denver, Spokane and Wichita before serving 12 season as general manager of the St. Paul Saints (then independent; Northern League/American Association). Zoellner has had a successful real estate development and investment career.
“We are extremely excited to be joining the Kenosha community with our purchase of the Kenosha Kingfish. Mike and I have been looking for the right situation to get back into baseball and looked at several teams over the past few years,” Fanning said. “Once we dug deeper into Kenosha’s baseball history and the Kingfish culture, we knew this was the right city and right team for us. We want to thank Big Top Baseball, Steve Schmitt, Vern Stenman, and Conor Caloia for their work in laying the foundation for success and setting a high bar for providing a fun, customer first, family atmosphere at Simmons Field. The current staff does a great job and we’re looking forward to working with them to continue the tradition of excellence that Kenosha has come to expect with the Kingfish. Opening Day can’t come soon enough.”
Under the Big Top Baseball umbrella, the Kingfish were launched in 2014 by Schmitt, Stenman and Caloia. The sale to Let’s Play Two LLC is pending the transfer of the Simmons Field lease and the accompanying liquor license. This transfer will be reviewed by the City of Kenosha Board of Parks Commission on Monday, March 28. If approved by this commission, it will be reviewed by the City of Kenosha Common Council on Monday, April 4. If approved by the Common Council and with the approval of a pending liquor license application, the sale is expected to be completed in late April.
Baseball was first played at the Simmons Field site in 1920, and the current grandstand opened in 1930.