NEW ULM - The New Ulm Park and Recreation Commission unanimously voted to consider an agreement to allow a new baseball team in town. The team would be comprised of college players from all over the country.
Gary Rima, owner and president of the The Great Midwestern League, said establishing a team in New Ulm is part of its larger goal of build a summer collegiate baseball league around the Midwest. If the League comes to New Ulm, Rima would want a local owner or organization to run the team. The League's goal is to provide a fun, training opportunity for college baseball players.
The proposed setup would involve college-age baseball players from around the country as participants. However, local college players would be allowed to play if they are interested. Players would be housed in New Ulm by host families.
The team would play 48 games a year, with roughly half at "home" in New Ulm. The League will prefer to use Johnson Park, but it is willing to Mueller Park as needed. Most games would be played at night. Rima said there will be minimal use of the parks for training due to how the schedule for games is worked out. If approved, the League would start in New Ulm in 2014.
Rima listed the benefits of bringing the League to town. The games would be a new source of sports entertainment.
"I believe that you can't have too much baseball," said Rima.
The League functions like a new business coming to town by regularly bringing in hundreds of fans, with the possibility of it growing to thousands of fans if successful, Rima said. The League could also bring national attention to New Ulm if it is listed as where a League player got his start before moving to the big leagues.
Representatives from the New Ulm Baseball Association strongly objected to the team and urged the Commission not to look into further details.
NUBA's main objections focused on concerns about the additional "wear and tear" on the fields and the addition of a new team eroding the current pool of local fans and revenues from items like advertising and concessions. Representatives argued this situation would hurt all teams. NUBA pointed out that if there were ever a game by the league at the same time as any local team, it would divide the existing audience and both teams would lose out.
Rima responded that the League's intent is to distinguish itself by going to great lengths to avoid conflicts with local teams. Great lengths would be taken to only schedule events at times or days that do not conflict with local games. He said there is a possibility that scheduling restrictions could force simultaneous games, but it would only be once a year in the worst case scenario.
The Commission decided to proceed with looking into how the League could be locally implemented.
The Park and Recreation Department will spend the next few months determining all the details. Following that, the draft plan will be brought back the Commission for review and potential approval.
The League is currently working to establish several cities to hosts teams. The League will proceed when at least six teams are finalized.
The Commission approved recommending the New Ulm City Council authorize grant applications with the New Ulm Area Foundation for $4,5000 and with Room to Run Nutro Pet Food Company for $2,000 for financing the border fence for the new dog park in South German Park.
Supporters of the dog park have already raised $6,000. The recommendation by the Commission is to use the City's status in the application, because it has a better chance of getting the grant.
Future improvements to the dog park include lighting, water fountains and obstacles for the dogs to use when exercising.
(Josh Moniz can be e-mailed at email@example.com)