Ducks Stadium

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Ducks Stadium

Post by borismedia » Wed Apr 22, 2015 2:21 pm

Baseball's coming back to Ducks -

Springfield Business Journal
4/20/2015 1:54:00 PM
Back in the Game
Independent minor league is on deck for June opening at Ozark stadium

Former Springfield-Ozark Mountain Ducks manager Phil Wilson is bringing his reinvention of minor league baseball to life in Ozark.
Zach Smith

After 10 seasons on the bench, baseball is returning to Ozark. Sliding into home for the 2015 season, independent minor league baseball is back at the former Price Cutter Park baseball stadium.

The game plan, according to the company overseeing the newly formed Heartland of America League – Ozarks Pro Baseball LLC – includes 250 players on 10 teams representing cities in southwest Missouri and northwest Arkansas who will play 100 days of double-header games at the Ozark stadium and surrounding Springfield area fields, beginning June 10.

“We’ve created a brand new concept of regional minor league baseball,” said Art Wilkinson, Ozarks Pro Baseball vice president of baseball operations, adding the company’s business model seeks to erase the expenses associated with keeping teams on the road, in hotels and paid per diem. “From an economic standpoint, the benefit to the area will be phenomenal. We’re bringing $75–$85 million into the economy just in the next seven months.”

With teams representing Springfield, Ozark, Nixa, Lebanon, Branson, Joplin-Carthage and Fayetteville, Bentonville, Sprindale and Rogers, Ark., the new league could mean opportunity not only for the Christian County seat, but also for the players.

“I looked at it from a lot of different perspectives,” said league creator Phil Wilson, also a former manager of the stadium’s first minor league team, the Springfield-Ozark Mountain Ducks. “Obviously from a management standpoint, I had seen a lot of the difficulties that came in with independent league baseball – travel, different kinds of management. It was a pretty wild thing to a certain extent.”

The players
Serving as the league commissioner, Wilson has high hopes the new league will give prospective players an introduction to the sport on a professional level.

“There are times when I have kids from northern Arkansas and southern Missouri who have never been to a professional game,” Wilson said of his other job as head coach of North Arkansas College’s baseball team. “What I’d like to do is bring that professional baseball to their backyard and give them the chance for that exposure.”

Wilson considers the league a proving ground for its players, who range in age from 18 to 28, are all paid the same salary – $800 – and sign a three-year contract with the league with the ultimate goal of advancing to the majors within that time. This last point is especially important to Wilson and his colleagues, who see the league as a second chance for hopefuls who for one reason or another, may have missed the boat.

“I grew up wanting to play professional baseball, but I got hurt my senior year in college and basically the dream went down the drain,” Wilson said, noting no further opportunities to play existed at that time. “We want to provide the opportunity not only for these kids to play but to maybe make it up the ladder and have enough skills and enough good baseball sense to play for some of the affiliated teams down the road.

The business
City Administrator Steve Childers said Ozark signed a lease option with Ozarks Pro Baseball for the 22 acres of city-owned land surrounding the ballpark. The company will pay $1,000 a month from April through Oct. 1, and in exchange, the city will not actively market or sell the property to another potential buyer during that time. Childers said the first month’s payment was made April 6.

Come Oct. 1, Ozarks Pro Baseball will then have the option to enter into a lease-purchase agreement with a verbally agreed-to price tag of $600,000 for the land, made in six $100,000 payments through October 2020.

“As it’s been described to us, the possibility for significant economic development is there, but again it’s just potential right now,” Childers said. “For it to be significant we want it to obviously create jobs and new visits, and property tax and sales tax, all of the good things that we deal with.

Wilkinson said the company also has made an undisclosed payment to stadium owner Horn Chen toward its purchase, and expects to close the deal before the end of the month.

Ozarks Pro Baseball also will own most of the league’s associated income, including the 10 teams and 100 percent of the parking, concessions and merchandise. Wilkinson said the company’s long range goal, should the venture prove successful, is to introduce the concept in new locations around the country.

“Because we have the ability to generate receipts from that broad cross section of revenue streams, we can have every ticket be $12 and with that you can get a hot dog and a Coke at no extra charge,” Wilkinson said. “That’s something better than dinner and a movie, you’ve got dinner and a ballgame.”

Wilkinson said talks are on going with Fortune 100 and 500 companies, some with area ties, for the naming rights to the stadium once the purchase finalizes.

Brad Eldridge, who served as facility volunteer director since the Ducks disbanded, estimates stadium upkeep expenses at around $40,000 a year. Rentals typically bring in between $30,000 and $40,000 a year.

“I usually end up spending money out of my own pocket to keep it alive, that’s how tight it is,” he said.

Eldridge said although he and volunteers have kept the ballpark from falling into disrepair, it would require some minor renovation to get back into playing shape.

“There’s probably 30 days worth of repairs to the facility itself, the bathrooms, the concessions stands and the field,” Eldridge said. “Those are the only things that need repairs.”

Wilkinson isn’t phased by the potential work.

“We have a budget for renovation, and I expect we’ll be able to come in, I wont say well under, but I will say under what was projected would be originally required,” he said, declining to disclose project costs. “There’s a 99 percent chance at this stage of the game that we’ll open up to the newest full AstroTurf field in southwest Missouri.”

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Re: Ducks Stadium

Post by flogger » Thu Apr 23, 2015 8:02 am

I've been following this story. I have yet to see any mention of repairs or even increased upkeep to the disintegrating parking lot at Duck's Stadium. It also sounds like if he's successful with it, the complete facility (including the parking lot) will be used nearly every day. Fortunately Crowder College's facility is available to us, and it's an excellent venue. It'd be nice to have multiple geographic locations, though. It'd provide additional variables and challenges for our frequent competitors to manage, and could allow us to occasionally draw participants from a broader area geographically. Anybody with bright ideas or leads on additional possible venues, please pass them on to me or any other OMR Board member. Thanks.
Scott Woosley

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