New Snappers stadium remains a hot topic

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Mike Johnson
Wednesday, January 26, 2011
— As the Beloit Professional Baseball Association, Inc., began its 30th season with its seventh annual Beloit Snappers Hot Stove Banquet at the Eclipse Center on Tuesday, the topic of constructing a new stadium remained integral.

Slowly but surely, Snappers chairman Dennis Conerton thinks—and hopes—the organization is making progress.

Venerable but outdated Pohlman Field has been the home of the Snappers, currently the Minnesota Twins’ Single-A affiliate, since 1982. The Snappers commissioned a study last year focusing on a plot of land near the intersection of I-90 and I-43 as a potential site for a new stadium.

Though Conerton said that area remains the preferred site, the Snappers continue to conduct studies exploring other areas of land.

“We have to thoroughly analyze this one when someone comes up and says, ‘What about this (site)?’” Conerton said Tuesday.

One survey this past summer asked a group of business and community leaders to give feedback over a city-owned plot of land east of I-90 in the Gateway Development Park.

“The support for the whole project was fantastic, that we need the site, we need the stadium on that site, as described,” Conerton said. “The financial support was good. It wasn’t a hundred percent where we wanted to get it, but we thought we could answer a lot of questions.”

In the process of that survey, a private plot of land west of the Rock River was also proposed as a site for a new ballpark. Conerton said he hopes to have an analysis of that site completed by the end of the first fiscal quarter.

Conerton said funding for the project will strictly come from a combination of tax-deductible philanthropic donations from corporations and individuals, as well as cashflow generated by Snappers operations. He said no public money or tax increases would be used.

“Asking people about philanthropic giving in the worst economic climate, the highest unemployment in the state and all that, (is tough), but we got really good response,” Conerton said of the most recent survey.

Pohlman Field had a $1 million renovation done in 1995 to meet minimum standards for existing facilities. As part of their professional agreement with Major League Baseball, the Snappers must meet high standards for any new ballpark, standards that could potentially apply to Pohlman Field and at least demand another renovation.

“You never know when that might filter down to the existing parks and say, ‘It’s time to step up again and make improvements if you want to keep the franchise,’” Conerton said.

Last updated: 3:59 pm Thursday, December 13, 2012

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