Rockford will play in the South Division moving La Crosse to the North
Rochester, Minn. – The league where Chris Sale, Max Scherzer, Curtis Granderson, Mark Melancon and well over 100 other current and former major-league baseball players once spent their summers is coming to the Stateline.
The Northwoods League announced on Tuesday, October 13, in a press conference at the BMO Harris Bank Center that it has awarded a franchise to the Rockford area for the 2016 season. The franchise will be owned and operated by Rockford Baseball Properties, LLC and will play its home games at a to-be renamed stadium in Loves Park.
"We're excited to bring our product to the greater Rockford community and to the wonderful facility in Loves Park," said Northwoods League President Dick Radatz, Jr. "The fact that 194 players got drafted last year kind of speaks for itself as far as the talent running around the Northwoods League and drawing over 1.1 million fans speaks to the quality experience we're offering to fans league-wide."
The team has signed a five-year lease with Gurnee-based Northside Bank, the owner of the ballpark at 4503 Interstate Blvd. previously known as RiverHawks Stadium, Road Ranger Stadium and Aviators Stadium. The Northwoods League team has no ties to any of the prior teams.
The team is owned by Radatz, a co-founder of the Northwoods League. Chad Bauer, the team's general manager, has successfully launched new Northwoods League teams in Green Bay and Mequon, Wisc.
"Coming into a startup like Rockford, the top three things we want to accomplish are: elevating the appearance of the stadium, by cleaning and repairing the things that have been neglected; hiring a friendly and professional staff; elevating the quality of our concessions to a restaurant-quality level," Bauer said. "We've found in other markets that these three things are key elements to successful franchises."
With the addition of Rockford to the South Division the La Crosse Loggers will move from the South to the North Division for the 2015 season.
The Northwoods League is the proven leader in the development of elite college baseball players. The 22-year old summer collegiate league is the largest organized baseball league in the world with 18 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, more than 140 Northwoods League players have advanced to Major League Baseball, including Cy Young Award winner Max Scherzer (WAS) and MLB All-Stars Chris Sale (CWS), Jordan Zimmermann (WAS), Curtis Granderson (NYM), Lucas Duda (NYM) and Ben Zobrist (KC). All league games are viewable live via the Northwoods League website. For more information, visit www.northwoodsleague.com.