St. Croix Ballpark Delayed Until 2020
The St. Croix River Hounds announced this week that it will delay its inaugural season until the 2020 season due to “a delay in the overall site development” and scheduling conflicts with the Northwoods League.
The summer collegiate league team was slated to begin to play next summer along with two other franchises, Kokomo and Traverse City, but an agreement between the construction company and the City of Hudson had just been finalized two weeks ago on October 5. The NWL typically begins its season in late May giving builders a short window of 8 months to complete by opening day.
This presented the second dilemma of how many teams to schedule for next season in the league that currently exist with 22 active teams, the Hounds would have created an odd number 23 teams. Earlier this month, the Normal CornBelters announced they were leaving the Frontier League an joining a summer collegiate league; there was speculation that the NWL would be ideal as its 24th team, but Normal has been silent on where it’s playing in 2019.
“We will be able to complete all aspects of the stadium for a great experience for fans and spectators,” Klint Klaas, River Hounds CEO/Owner indicated through an email. “The stadium will have a number of party decks, a brewery stand, great food options and quality seating throughout that provides a great experience for all.”
Perhaps it is a good thing that there was a delay in the ballpark construction. The Wisconsin winters can be truculent and just one bad stretch of weather could have resulted in an incomplete facility for fans on opening night. There had been other ballparks that opened that were not 100 percent finished and in the case of another NWL member in Kokomo, its ballpark’s construction was halted due to a lawsuit. It was finally n compliance with federal laws and regulations a few days before opening day and took a total of 11 months to build, but concessions had to be outsourced the for the first homestand.
Having an additional year provides a chance to market the ball club a bit more in the area and ensure that everything that could possibly go wrong will be checked and crossed off before opening pitch in 2020. It is an ambitious product that will provide another ballpark option to fans 18 miles from CHS Field in St. Paul and another 12 miles from Target Field in Minneapolis. Those two ballparks are among the elite in their respective leagues, and perhaps gives extra time to provide for a more cutting-edge experience. Based on preliminary drawings and conversation, it looks to be a well thought of baseball facility at this point and time.
The future ballpark will be built as part of a redevelopment project on the former St. Croix Meadow Dog Park. The former racetrack opened in 1991 gain controversy over gambling and the treatment of dogs that when its owner attempted to turn it into a casino, it was denied by the state and then closed.
Since the 130-acre site closure 17-years-ago, it has remained unused and multiple site developments had been discussed. The 3,000 to 4,000 seat ballpark will also include a brewery, hotel, sports complex, business offices, and a new fire station as part of the redevelopment project.
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