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New Snappers stadium in the works?


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Here is some more information I found. "The Rock County Rockers?" Ugh!




Pair go to bat for a new Snappers stadium-and more


(Published Sunday, August 20, 2006)

By Tom Miller

Gazette Staff


The "Field of Dreams" for two Rock County businessmen is 144 acres of corn south of Janesville where they'd like to see a new stadium for the Beloit Snappers, a new home for the Rock County 4-H Fair and a new racetrack for stockcar drivers.


"We have a dream," Janesville's Jim Fitzgerald said earlier this week. "If we build it, they will come."


Beloit businessman Ken Hendricks envisions area stockcar drivers circling a racetrack on the Brunland Farms property at Interstate 90/39 and Avalon Road.


The Snappers, Beloit's minor-league baseball franchise, is observing its 25th year this season and getting a new stadium has become a No. 1 priority. The Milwaukee Brewer franchise pulled its Class A minor-league affiliation out of Beloit two years ago, citing the lack of a new stadium as a major reason.


Fitzgerald, the former owner of the Milwaukee Bucks and then the Golden State Warriors, has become the point man on making a new stadium a reality.


"It's coming down the trail," the 80-year-old Fitzgerald said. "Whether it happens or not depends on a lot of cooperation from a number of institutions and a lot of people-for example, the city of Beloit, the city of Janesville and, in particular, Rock County."


Fitzgerald envisions the Class A baseball franchise becoming more of a Rock County team. In that vein, he has been thinking of a new name for the team.


"The name I like is the Rock County Rockers," Fitzgerald said. "But I'm sure there will be other ideas."


The land involved in the proposed deal belongs to Brunland Farms, a corporation formed by the Elton and Marilyn Broege family. The property includes 144 acres at the southwest corner of the I-90 and Avalon Road.


Fitzgerald has made initial inquiries about the property.


Elton Broege said his three sons milk 360 cows at the farm, which has been in the family since 1938. If the land is sold, the Broeges plan to relocate and continue farming.


"I realize it's an ideal location for them," Broege said. "It would make them happy, but they're going to have to make us happy, as well."


So the land is available.



The Beloit Snappers currently play at Pohlman Field in the middle of Beloit, but a couple of Rock County businessmen would like to see the team move to a more rural setting south of Janesville.


Other tie-ins

Fitzgerald and Hendricks don't want the project to stop with a new Snapper stadium.


Both believe the land would be an ideal place to relocate the Rock County 4-H Fairgrounds. The fairgrounds now are in a residential area in Janesville.


Randy Thompson, UW-Extension dairy and livestock agent, would love to see the fairgrounds moved.


"Where it is currently located is inadequate to provide for the needs of the 4-H fair," Thompson said. "It has tremendous limitations being in the heart of a residential area."


Both Fitzgerald and Hendricks envision the Snappers (or Rockers) playing on the road the week of the fair. The parking lot would be more convenient than the street parking fair-goers now have to put up with.


The baseball stadium could be used for concerts. Hendricks also said smaller area bands could be booked for concerts to provide entertainment for the county's youth throughout the summer.


Thompson said a feasibility study two years ago by Hurtado Consulting estimated the cost of building a new fairgrounds at $20 million. That figure included a smaller-scale convention center to replace the Craig building.


"Getting the fairgrounds there is not necessary, in my opinion," said Fitzgerald. "But it would be a wonderful addition."


Fitzgerald said he would also like to see a Rock County war memorial constructed on the site.


Hendricks has added another possible tenant. Hendricks, who sponsors a car on the A.J. Foyt team in the Indy Racing League and the IRL race at the Milwaukee Mile, says Rockford Speedway might be sold and the land used for development.


If that's the case, he would like to see a track similar to the Rockford Speedway, located on the site.


Location, location ?

Fitzgerald and Hendricks attended a Rockford RiverHawks game last Sunday night at the franchise's new $7 million stadium located off I-90 in Loves Park, Ill. They were accompanied by Kurt Carlson, RiverHawks chairman and developer of the stadium.


Hendricks would prefer to keep the baseball stadium in Beloit, but "they don't have a place to put it."


Location is the key for what is in the works.


Some Midwest League franchises have built new stadiums in downtown areas to spark economic growth.


A downtown location worked in Dayton, Ohio, a city of 160,000. Since Dayton built a $22.7 million, 7,230-seat stadium six years ago, the Dragons have sold out every game. The team averages about 1,000 more fans than the listed capacity, thanks to suites and lawn seating.


New or renovated riverfronts, a performing arts center, corporate business and condominiums have been added since the new stadium.


But what Fitzgerald and the Snapper group are looking for is visibility.


"We need visibility from the highway," Fitzgerald said.


In ******on, for example, the Wisconsin Timber Rattlers play at Fox Cities Stadium on Highway 41, a heavily traveled four-lane highway. The stadium, built in 1995, is clearly visible from the highway.


In Rockford, the RiverHawks have taken advantage of their stadium's visibility to increase attendance by an average of more than 2,300 fans per game, a 13-percent increase over last year. According to the July 31 issue of Baseball America, just 10 teams have increased their attendance by 16.43 percent or more.


"I can honestly say being right off of 90 is a huge benefit," said Josh Olerud, RiverHawks general manager. "It's so much better than being buried away in some residential area, miles from the freeway."


Possible roadblocks

What stands in the way of this project?


Hendricks and Fitzgerald both said there has to be cooperation on all fronts.


The biggest piece might be getting Rock County Board approval to fold the Rock County 4-H Fairgrounds into the project.


Cost would be a likely point of contention, with Rock County already facing a proposed $56.5 million jail project and $11.23 million UW-Rock building project.


Richard Ott, Rock County Board chairman, said he is not against moving the fairgrounds, but it would be an uphill struggle to get board approval.


"We have 29 county board members, each representing 5,400 people, and the message generally is to be frugal with taxpayers' money," Ott said. "It would be a tough sell."


The property would have to be annexed by the city of Janesville for sewer and water to be installed. City Planner Gale Price said the nearest sewer and water lines are a mile away. Price put rough estimates at $400,000 for those improvements.


Mike Saunders, the LaPrairie town chairman, said he was unaware of any impending land transaction.


"If the city annexes property, there's not a thing we can do," Saunders said of the town board.


Saunders said the town would not obstruct a project that would make the area better. The township is known for preserving its agriculturally zoned areas, which includes the Brunland Farms property.


"Historically, we've always smiled at agriculture," Saunders said.


Fitzgerald plans to visit a few other new stadiums before the minor-league seasons ends.


He points at the dedication of Snapper board president Dennis Conerton, and board member Howard Erickson and Midwest League Commissioner and Beloit resident George Spelius as reasons he wants to see this project become a reality.


"We've got to get it resolved before people run out of enthusiasm," Fitzgerald said. "We can only stay on it so long."

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This is a much better article. Click on the link and read the comments. Some are pretty scary with a lot of Beloit hate.




Snappers, fairgrounds deal proposed

Posted: Wednesday, Oct 11, 2006 - 11:39:57 am CDT

By Erika Hoefer

Daily News staff writer


Players looking to land a spot on the Minnesota Twins' roster might be pitching for the Rock County Rockets instead of the Beloit Snappers if a land swap proposal goes through.


If a recently submitted proposal makes it past the Rock County Board, the Beloit Snappers could move from Pohlman Field to the I-90 corridor. In a letter drafted to the board, Bill Watson of Mulder Dairy Farms Inc. put a much-rumored land swap on paper. Watson, MDF president, is offering three pieces of land totaling 346 acres located near the Highway 11/Interstate-90 ramp in return for the 421 acres of Rock County farm land on the north side of Janesville. In addition to a new baseball stadium, the land would be used for a new Rock County fairgrounds, according to the proposal.


In addition, Ken Hendricks, owner of ABC Supply in Beloit, has proposed a racetrack similar to the Rockford Speedway for the site.


Pitch in a $7 million gift to get the bats swinging, a plan for an aggregate mining operation in La Prairie Township to support the new complex and a charitable foundation to protect the funds, and the Rock County Board has quite a hefty decision to make and not a lot of time to make it in. However, the proposal sets a deadline of Dec. 29. or Watson says the deal is off.



?There's a ton of work that has to be done,? Rock County Board Chair Richard Ott said. ?I would be shocked if it was a clean delivered package by the 29th.?


Betty Jo Bussie, Rock County District 17 Supervisor, said this might be bad timing for the board because of budget season.


But Watson is understanding of the work the board has before it. He said as long as the board makes a positive statement by the deadline that they will in fact go forward with the proposal - he won't pull the plug on the $7 million cash payout.


The proposal doesn't say the payout must go toward a new stadium and joint fairground complex, but Watson hopes that is what the county will use it for.


?We put no restrictions on it,? he said. ?We hope that it will be used prudently.?


It was Janesville businessman Jim Fitzgerald who sought out MDF and Watson over a year ago for land for a new baseball stadium. Fitzgerald said he was concerned that the Snappers were failing financially in their current location at Pohlman Field off Cranston Road in Beloit.


?They are struggling. The market should be the county market, not Turtle Township,? Fitzgerald said. ?It's been wieners and beans - hands to mouth.?


Dennis Conerton, CEO of the Beloit Snappers, has been waiting for a deal like this for upwards of four years.


?The (current) stadium is not up to speed with the others in our 14-team league. We're one of the oldest facilities with the least amenities for the fans,? Conerton said. A new stadium would have a variety of seating options for fans including lawn seating and suites. It would also feature an open concourse, more areas for picnics and groups and catering capabilities.


Conerton said he has been studying the progression of the Wisconsin Timber Rattlers of the ******on area. Formerly the ******on Foxes, the team was housed in a residential area with little access. When a new stadium was built outside the city on the interstate there, the team began to draw a more regional audience and ticket sales skyrocketed.


?We know it's been done,? he said.


But for some fans, the plan isn't so lucrative.


?I like them where they are. A lot of people like where they are,? said Grace Phillips, the Snappers' self-named number one fan. Phillips started following the Snappers 25 years ago when the team was known as the Beloit Brewers. Phillips has attended nearly every home game since the start of the Minor League Class A club.


?It's a nice place to go to at night and have entertainment,? she said. ?If they put in a race track and also have the fair there, that's going to be hard to set up the games. One would be pulling away from the other one. There would be quite a bit of competition.?


Conerton said scheduling wouldn't be a problem, at least not with the county fair. The team has the opportunity to protect certain dates from home games before the season starts and would make sure it was playing out of town during fair week.


Conerton also said that if a change in venue isn't made and ticket sales don't go up, the Minor League could very well pull the Snappers out of the county altogether.


?Would (fans) want to go 5 miles out of the way to see a game, or would they like it to go away completely? I think the fans would prefer to keep that here,? he said.


The team also has a lead from the city for a possible stadium in the Gateway area, but it doesn't come with the $7 million backing that the MDF plan has.


?This is fully funded,? Conerton said. ?This is the priority. This doesn't come along very often.?


?We could support some debt, but we could not fund the whole thing,? he said of the Snappers creating a stadium on their own.


Conerton pointed out that MDF's proposal wouldn't need taxpayer money to run. In addition to the $7 million, Watson has said he will pay an additional $1.3 million to cover the difference in land value if the swap goes through.


?We would hope that the money would go toward building the baseball stadium and moving the fairground site,? Watson said. ?(The county) would have a running start with $8.3 million dollars in cash.?


Kurtis Yankee, Rock County District 11 Supervisor, isn't so sure that cost to the tax payers will have much sway with the board.


?I think there's some opposition. The feeling I get is that the people in opposition don't want to lose the farm land. It's good soil, some of the best in the state,? Yankee said.


Although Supervisor Bussie is in favor of putting the county in a better position, she also holds so reserves about moving too quickly with the project.


?Once farmland is used up, you never get it back,? Bussie said. ?That's a legitimate argument.?


In addition, Yankee isn't sure that the people of La Prairie Township where the new stadium/fairground complex would be housed, want to see that happen.


?We've been getting a lot of letters from some people in a subdivision in the area that are very much against putting in a proposed racetrack and a proposed fairgrounds, something that would bring a lot of traffic and noise to their area.?


Bussie has seen the letters too.


?People don't want the noise and traffic,? she said.


Watson acknowledges that the people of La Prairie Township are not excited about a change. MDF also holds another 548-acre property in the township known as H&H.


?People call it the ?funk farm,'? he said. Vulcan Materials had the option to purchase the land for mining a few years back, but chose not to procede because the people of La Prairie refused the mining.


According to MDF's proposal, studies have shown that there are about one billion tons of high-grade construction aggregate under the MDF lands. If the proposed Rock County Foundation received an extraction fee of 7 percent of a $1-per-ton sale of aggregate leaving the county, the foundation's income would be $70 million. If the sale price were $100-per-ton, the county would earn $7 billion to upkeep the stadium/fairground complex and to fund other county projects.


?It would be a very profitable cash cow. The things (the county) could do with that kind of money are just endless,? he said.


But Watson does indeed recognize the desires of the La Prairie people.


?It's going to be a hurdle to make the neighbors happy,? Watson said, adding, ?If everybody cn agree to this, it's going to get financed. With the talent pool (including MDF and Ken Hendricks), it will happen. We've shown our faith in it. We'll make land available and we'll make cash available.?


The proposal will come before the Rock County Board of Supervisors at the Oct. 26 meeting.


?This is such an incredible dream and so many hurdles have to be crossed before we get there,? Watson said.

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  • 3 months later...

If they became the Rock County Rockers, could they wear uniforms inspired by Shawn Michaels and Marty Janetty? If yes, I would gladly purchase season tickets.



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If they became the Rock County Rockers, could they wear uniforms inspired by Shawn Michaels and Marty Janetty? If yes, I would gladly purchase season tickets.


Wow that picture took me back. I can still remember when Shawn threw him thru the window, thus ending Marty's career in WWF(for the most part).

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Brutus Beefcake, "Ladies and gentlemen, The Rockers." Boom! Shawn Michaels superkicks Marty Jannetty. The toss through the Barber Shop window was pretty cool!


Back to the topic at hand. I'll be depressed if the Snappers move. I enjoy the games. They are really affordable, and my kids just love Snappy. The only thing that would make me happy is if they moved somewhere else in the state, although I only have a 40 minute drive to Beloit from my house in Deerfield. Madison Mallards owner Steve Schmitt has made it pretty clear he is happy with his amateur Northwoods League team and has no desire to try to attract an actual minor league team.

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I don't care if they move, but just leave them in the state, it is awful that the people of Beloit aren't doing more to keep them in town.


Well, to be fair, the stadium they play in is horrible. Attendence isn't that high(i donno the avgs for Low A ball), but they do still attend. I think a new stadium would really boost the numbers there.

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The one article had them at about 1200 a game.


Which was 13th out of the 14 teams in the Midwest League. Here are the League standings(www.ballparkwatch.com/fea..._2006.html


Midwest League: 3,298,095


1. Dayton Dragons &nbsp &nbsp &nbsp &nbsp 582,903

2. Kane County Cougars &nbsp &nbsp &nbsp &nbsp 500,052

3. West Michigan Whitecaps &nbsp &nbsp &nbsp &nbsp 356,155

4. Lansing Lugnuts &nbsp &nbsp &nbsp &nbsp 331,503

5. Fort Wayne Wizards &nbsp &nbsp &nbsp &nbsp 253,564

6. Peoria Chiefs &nbsp &nbsp &nbsp &nbsp 235,031

7. Wisconsin Timber Rattlers &nbsp &nbsp &nbsp &nbsp 209,033

8. Cedar Rapids Kernels &nbsp &nbsp &nbsp &nbsp 176,021

9. South Bend Silver Hawks &nbsp &nbsp &nbsp &nbsp 164,138

10. Swing of the Quad Cities &nbsp &nbsp &nbsp &nbsp 146,688

11. Clinton LumberKings &nbsp &nbsp &nbsp &nbsp 108,301

12. Southwest Michigan Devil Rays &nbsp &nbsp &nbsp &nbsp 84,969

13. Beloit Snappers &nbsp &nbsp &nbsp &nbsp 84,547

14. Burlington Bees &nbsp &nbsp &nbsp &nbsp 65,190



Personally, i think Beloit is a little small to have a Minor League team so far into the city(3rd smallest in the League, but the other two have MUCH bigger metro areas). Having it in between Janesville and Beloit would be best. That way, a majority of the County's population would have easy access in and out(not to mention people from surrounding counties). Now granted, the teams at the top of the list have much larger populations(dayton has almost 900,000 people in the metro area), but i feel that Beloit can more than double their numbers with a new stadium.

( '_')


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I don't know why they just don't utilize the Rock County Farm for the stadium/fairgrounds. It's right on the intersection of two major highways (51 & 14). While there may be some infastructure/traffic issues here, that would have happened anyway if the "swap" had occurred, because the guy would have developed the heck out of that land.


True this would be moving the team out of the Beloit area, but if it saves baseball for Rock County, you have to do it.

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As a former correspondent with the Beloit Daily News who covered a couple games for the newspaper, I have some comments about Beloit.

The Snappers have fallen on hard times in Beloit in my opinion. Back when they first were created in 1982, there was a lot of hoopla around them from what I read in the microfilm room when I had boring nights after writing a sports story there. The reason the Citizens of Beloit haven't supported the team that much is because the economic situation has gone down. The entire market in the area hasn't been as good as it once was. Rockford, Ill. had a minor league club just 10 years ago, but they went belly up and are now stuck with an indy league team.

The stadium was awful and the locker room was kind of tacky when I walked in and interviewed players, and only one washer and dryer combo in the whole locker room.

If the Snappers cease to exist in Beloit, it will only be because of a lack of fan support. The games I covered, there were only a handful at games and at times I could literally count the people in attendance without even reaching a thousand.

The Snappers' also share their area with a local high school. The pavilion near the stadium houses the Beloit Memorial Boys Hockey team during the winter months.

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