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Minor League Ballpark Proposed for Milwaukee Suburb

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Copyright 2014 Journal Sentinel Inc.
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel (Wisconsin)

A proposed minor-league baseball stadium in Franklin received a generally favorable response from city officials at a Thursday meeting.

Developer Mike Zimmerman said the ballpark, to be built at The Rock sports complex, would draw more visitors to the city, creating an annual economic benefit he estimated at least $11 million.

The stadium and its team also would provide inexpensive, family-friendly entertainment, with an average ticket price of $10, Zimmerman said during a presentation to the Common Council.

The stadium would cost roughly $7 million to $11 million to develop, Zimmerman said.

His attorney, Alex Vealitzek, said about 70% of new baseball stadiums built over the past 15 to 20 years have used a combination of public and private financing. Neither Vealitzek nor Zimmerman mentioned a specific figure of possible city financing for the proposed Franklin stadium. Zimmerman said he first wants to obtain the city's approval to build the ballpark before discussing possible public financing help.

Mayor Tom Taylor and the six aldermen all expressed support for the project. But some council members also said they would be hesitant to support city financing for the stadium.

The park would have 2, 500 to 3, 000 seats, and would use 20 to 30 acres at The Rock, which covers 128 acres at W. Loomis Road and S. 76th St. With berm seating, it could accommodate up to 7, 000 fans.

The ballpark would host a new team from the independent Frontier League, said Zimmerman, The Rock's owner. He said he has submitted his application for a new franchise and expects it to win league approval for the 2015 season.

"We're going to have a real professional team," he said.

The league's teams, located in the Midwest and mid-Atlantic states, are not affiliated with Major League Baseball clubs. The league's season runs from May through September. Its 14 teams include some northern Illinois clubs, such as the Rockford Aviators, the Schaumburg Boomers and the Windy City Thunderbolts. The Rock has opened in stages since late 2012 at a redeveloped landfill, where the former Crystal Ridge ski hill operated. Along with an improved ski hill, its new operations include six baseball fields, a patio with a bar area and a gravity bicycle trail.

The Rock also received city permission in November to operate an indoor facility for baseball practice and instruction at 7150

tdaykin@journalsentinel.com S. 76th St., in Orchard View Shopping Center, near the sports complex. Zimmerman said he has invested $10.5 million into The Rock.

Copyright 2014, Journal Sentinel Inc. All rights reserved. (Note: This notice does not apply to those news items already copyrighted and received through wire services or other media.)

 

February 2, 2014

 

 
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