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Kenosha Kingfish Agree in Principle to Ownership Transfer of Franchise

Kenosha, Wis. – The Kenosha Kingfish ownership group consisting of Steve Schmitt, Vern Stenman and Conor Caloia have agreed in principle to transfer ownership of the Kenosha Kingfish, a member of the Northwoods League, to Let’s Play Two LLC, owned by Bill Fanning and Mike Zoellner. The sale is pending the transfer of the Simmons Field lease and the accompanying liquor license. This transfer will be reviewed by the City of Kenosha Board of Parks Commission on Monday, March 28th. If approved by this commission, it will be reviewed by the City of Kenosha Common Council on Monday, April 4th.  If approved by the Common Council and with the approval of a pending liquor license application, the sale is expected to be completed in late April. 

All current team personnel will stay on under the new ownership and day-to-day operations will continue to be run by team President, Steve Malliet, and General Manager, Ryne Goralski.

Fanning and Zoellner have been close friends since meeting in the first grade and played college baseball together. Fanning went onto a storied management career in minor league baseball with stops in Denver, Spokane, Wichita and the successful launch of the St. Paul Saints. Fanning served as the General Manager for 12 seasons until he stepped away to focus on his growing family. Zoellner has had a successful real estate development and investment career. The acquisition of the Kingfish provides the two lifelong friends an exciting opportunity to share their passion for baseball and take the Kingfish organization to the next level as a community asset. 

We are extremely excited to be joining the Kenosha community with our purchase of the Kenosha Kingfish. Mike and I have been looking for the right situation to get back into baseball and looked at several teams over the past few years,” Fanning said. “Once we dug deeper into Kenosha’s baseball history and the Kingfish culture, we knew this was the right City and right team for us.  We want to thank Big Top Baseball, Steve Schmitt, Vern Stenman, and Conor Caloia for their work in laying the foundation for success and setting a high bar for providing a fun, customer first, family atmosphere at Simmons Field.  The current staff does a great job and we’re looking forward to working with them to continue the tradition of excellence that Kenosha has come to expect with the Kingfish.  Opening Day can’t come soon enough.”

The current ownership of the Kingfish launched the franchise at a newly renovated Simmons Field in 2014 and have enjoyed amazing community support since the start. The Kingfish have regularly ranked in the top 10 in the nation in summer collegiate baseball attendance and have become a staple of the summers in Kenosha. The organization won the Northwoods League Summer Collegiate World Series in 2015.

“We would like to thank the greater Kenosha community for embracing the Kingfish and making us feel welcome since we first discussed the idea of bringing spectator baseball back to Simmons Field in 2012,” Schmitt, Stenman and Caloia said in a joint statement. “We appreciate the support of former Mayor Keith Bosman, current Mayor John Antaramian, the Common Council, the Kenosha Simmons Baseball Organization Board and all of the dedicated host families, corporate partners and season ticket holders. Without them, the Kingfish would not have been possible. We think Bill and Mike will be great caretakers of the Kingfish brand and we are excited to watch them lead the next chapter of baseball in Kenosha.”

The Kingfish Home Opener is slated for 4:05 pm on Monday, May 30th against the Kalamazoo Growlers. For more information on the different ticket packages visit kingfishbaseball.com or call the Simmons Field Ticket Office at 262-653-0900.

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The Northwoods League is the proven leader in the development of elite college baseball players. Having completed its’ 27th season, the Northwoods League is the largest organized baseball league in the world with 22 teams, drawing significantly more fans, in a friendly ballpark experience, than any league of its kind. A valuable training ground for coaches, umpires and front office staff, over 245 Northwoods League players have advanced to Major League Baseball, including three-time All-Star and 2016 Roberto Clemente Award winner Curtis Granderson, three-time Cy Young Award winner and World Series Champion Max Scherzer (WAS), two-time World Series Champions Ben Zobrist (CHC) and Brandon Crawford (SFG) and World Series Champion Chris Sale (BOS). As well as 2019 Rookie of the Year and Home Run Derby Champion Pete Alonso (NYM) and MLB All-Star Jordan Zimmermann (DET). All league games are viewable live via the Northwoods League website. For more information, visit www.northwoodsleague.com or download the Northwoods League Mobile App on the Apple App Store or on Google Play.