Elkhorn Sports Complex

In the post below about the Snappers stadium issues and potential sale (stressing potential), there was a passage about a Chicago-based firm wanted to build a sports complex in Walworth county, which is just to the east of Beloit and Rock County in southern Wisconsin.

Here are links to two stories from the Janesville Gazette about this complex.

First there was: $7.5 million sports facility planned for Walworth County

ELKHORN-A Chicago-based television production and event marketing company has finished negotiations with county officials to lease county land for a 250-acre sports complex.

Intersport is willing to pay the county $35,100 a year to lease land on County NN behind the law enforcement center, judicial center and Lakeland Health Care Center.

"We definitely would like to do it here," Intersport founder and CEO Charlie Besser told the county board executive committee Tuesday. Early plans for the "Intersport Champions Village" call for a multi-phased project, with a $7.5 million initial investment to construct eight to 10 baseball diamonds and 25 player dormitories, said Dave Boblink, company chief financial officer.
The estimated economic impact after phase No. 1 for the greater Elkhorn area would be $6.3 million to $7.7 million, Boblink said. Phase No. 2 would double the size of the baseball complex and add soccer fields, basketball courts and possibly areas for volleyball and lacrosse, said Steve Colombo, Intersport president of baseball operations.

A possible third phase could include a minor league baseball stadium, according to a concept package presented to the county.

Then, there is this little tag at the end of the article:
Former University of Wisconsin Athletics Director Pat Richter is on Intersport's Board of Advisors. "I hope the people of Elkhorn feel just as well as we do," Richter told the executive committee.

Pat, get them to build it in Madison. Maybe the University could start up baseball again.

Story number two from the Janesville Gazette is a bit longer and has a lot more detail: Elkhorn sports complex looks to attract teams like New York facility does
ELKHORN-Investors who want to build privately-owned youth sports complex near Elkhorn may hope to copy a facility in Cooperstown, N.Y., where they gross nearly $1 million a week in player fees.

Copy Cooperstown? What do they do to get a million dollars a week?

Cooperstown Dreams Park opened in 1996 and shares many of the features proposed by Intersport. The Cooperstown facility has 22 diamonds, 96 player cabins and hosts weeklong baseball tournaments for youth teams ages 12 and under. Between 4,000 and 5,000 people are at the facility daily for a 12-week stretch in summer, said Mike Walter, chief financial officer and managing director of Cooperstown Dreams Park. About 1,500 players and coaches stay on the grounds each week while families and friends of the players stay at hotels and homes in town.

Intersport officials did not say how they intend to turn a profit at the Intersport Championship Village they propose for Elkhorn, but Cooperstown Dreams Park makes most of its money from player fees and product sales. The park charges $625 per player and coach per week, which includes lodging, three meals a day, uniforms, a commemorative ring, tickets to the Hall of Fame, personalized baseball cards and the chance to play championship-caliber youth baseball, Walter said.

A quick glance at my broadcaster math tables tells me that, "Yes, lunkhead, that is about a million dollars!" Here is a little more:

Between the Hall of Fame, Cooperstown Dreams Park and other attractions, the village of Cooperstown, population 2,100, draws about 350,000 tourists annually, said Polly Renckens, local chamber of commerce executive director.

The baseball park has had a positive impact on the local economy with increased spending in shops, restaurants and hotels. Many homeowners rent their homes for $1,200 to $1,800 per week to families of ball players, added Deb Taylor, tourism director for Otsego County, N.Y.

"I cannot say enough about Dreams Park and the way they handle people and the experience kids have," Renckens said. "Everyone regards it as a glowing experience."

Well, it's not all puppies, rainbows, unicorns, seashells, and balloons.

But the town has seen strain since its opening in 1996, particularly on infrastructure. The two-lane highway to the facility becomes clogged and state troopers have to direct traffic during busy baseball times, Taylor said. The added people in the community have put stresses on the village's water and sewer capacity and its ability to pick up garbage on a timely basis, Renckens said. There is also more cleaning to be done in public buildings and at parks. Come summertime, parking is at a premium.

A youth sports complex could give Elkhorn a new identity. "It might give an image to the community that's totally different than what it has been, and that could be positive," Tapson said.

"It could give a whole new take on the community. It could give us a uniqueness that we don't have right now."

Two things about this from my perspective:

1.) Elkhorn is a nice town. I've stopped there for gas and a soda on the way to and from college. I've even played American Legion ball at the current fairgrounds. Their high school team is nicknamed the Elks. Nice, solid Middle America nickname for a high school team in a city that starts with the letter "E". But, they seem to be forgetting that Cooperstown has one thing that Elkhorn is lacking at this moment. A little thing called The National Baseball Hall of Fame. Just saying.

2.) The minor league stadium mentioned below is a distant possibility. Usually, anything in phase three is quite a few years off. Plus, that whole territorial thing would rear up and say no way if they wanted that team to be in the Midwest League.

Here is a brief explanation of the rule from the Atlanta Journal-Constitution about the Gwinnett County in Georgia even thinking about building a stadium to lure a minor league team:

The project might be a tough sell to the Braves, because a Gwinnett team potentially could lure fans from the Braves' minor-league team in Rome, as well as perhaps from big-league games at Turner Field.

Not subject to Braves approval would be independent league teams.

Affiliated minor-league teams are bound by agreements with Major League Baseball, one of which stipulates they cannot locate in the "operating territory" of a major league team without permission, according to Minor League Baseball's director of media relations Jim Ferguson. Gwinnett County is inside the Braves' operating territory, Ferguson said.

Usually, when a minor-league team is placed in a major-league franchise's market, it is as a farm team for that major league club. Such is the case with the New York Mets' farm team in Brooklyn, the New York Yankees' farm team on Staten Island and the Washington Nationals' farm team in Woodbridge, Va.

I would also add the Cincinnati Reds' affiliate in Dayton, OH. If Elkhorn or Walworth County wants an affiliated team, it would almost certainly have to be a Brewer affiliate.

More on this as it winds its way through another county board.

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