Prospect League baseball team coming to Kokomo
September 2, 2014Richmond RiverRats
Courtesy of the Kokomo Tribune
If you build it, they will come.
Just weeks after construction began downtown Kokomo for the new Kokomo Municipal Stadium, city officials made a major announcement about who would be playing there this coming spring with news that Kokomo will be getting a Prospect League baseball team.
The city announced the partnership with Milwaukee, Wisconsin-based MKE Sports & Entertainment Tuesday during a press conference at City Hall.
Team Owner Mike Zimmerman said he was thrilled to be bringing a Prospect League team to Kokomo, with plenty of other plans for the use of the stadium still in the makings. Zimmerman has experience in the sports world, as the owner of the Milwaukee Wave, a participant in the Major Arena Soccer League.
Kokomo will be the 12th team to join the league, which began its operations in 2008 to provide top collegiate level prospects with exposure to professional baseball throughout the Midwest.
Kokomo Mayor Greg Goodnight said the addition of a Prospect League team will have numerous benefits for the downtown and the city, with MKE funding many of the stadium’s basic operations.
MKE will pay the city a minimum of $22,500 for the use of the stadium, with various incentives that could boost that total to $100,000 a year in its five-year lease of the stadium. MKE Sports will be responsible for the maintenance of the stadium and will pay the electric, gas and water bills and trash removal at Kokomo Municipal Stadium.
“[Tuesday’s] announcement is about bringing family entertainment into the heart of our city in creating pedestrian activity in the afternoon and evening around Kokomo Municipal Stadium,” Goodnight said. “The bottom line is before the first pitch, Kokomo has scored a big win.”
The core of the new league was formulated to include current and former Frontier League teams in Chillicothe, Ohio, Richmond, Indiana, and Slippery Rock, Pennsylvania. Kokomo sits nearly in the center of the league’s geography, with teams from Richmond and Terra Haute, along with Hannibal, Missouri; Quincy, Danville and Springfield, Illinois; Champion City, Chillicothe and Lorain County, Ohio; Beckley, West Virginia; and Butler, Pennsylvania.
During the development process, the Prospect League began conversations with the team owners of the Central Illinois Collegiate League, which brought a 45-year summer collegiate league history to the table, as well as six teams within the footprint the Prospect League were looking to develop.
To date, the league has seen 263 of its players either drafted or signed in free agency to Major League Baseball organizations.
Zimmerman explains that the league will provide fans with a chance to see some of the top collegiate baseball talent in the country on display.
“Our vision is to have teams that are a mix of minor league independent baseball but also summer collegiate baseball,” he said. We’ve been all over the Midwest looking at opportunities.
"I have been all over the Midwest in the past six months looking for the right opportunity for baseball,” Zimmerman added. “After spending the day with Mayor Goodnight and city staff, as well as attending a local youth baseball game, I was hooked on Kokomo,” Zimmerman said. “The energy of the community with their love for sports and the revitalization project currently underway downtown is the perfect storm…. it’s a real recipe for success. I am truly humbled and grateful that the city has chosen my group to represent the great city of Kokomo."
The plan for the team’s name and logo will be a community effort, with the team announcing it will be holding a team naming contest, with the winning receiving a $2,500 cash, game tickets and prizes. Entries for team name, logo and team colors may be submitted online at www.kokomobaseball.com. A winner will be announced within the next 30 days.
“We want to work with the community to come up with the best name, look and feel for the team,” Zimmerman said.
When visiting the team’s new website, visitors also can put down a $100 deposit on tickets for the upcoming season. Prices for season and individual game tickets have not yet been solidified, Zimmerman said residents can expect game tickets to start at around $8 each.
Tuesday’s announcement came pending league approval and approval from the Kokomo Board of Public Works and Safety.