BELOIT, WI (WTVO/WQRF) –The future of minor league baseball is very unsettled. Major League Baseball is reducing its minor league affiliates by 40 teams. Affiliation agreements with minor league franchises are all up-in-the-air, and there’s that COVID thing going around that wiped out the entire 2020 minor league baseball season.
It’s a gamble for anyone and any group to invest heavily in minor league baseball right now, perhaps even moreso in Beloit where attendance for Snappers games has been among the worst in the Midwest League for years, but the new owner of the franchise Janesville native Quint Studer of Studer Entertainment and Retail is bringing the right elements together to try to make baseball in Beloit a big hit.
If you’ve driven to Beloit lately you’ve seen signs of a new $35 million dollar downtown stadium under construction. It’ll be ready for games next June. Studer now lives in Pensacola, Florida overseeing his other minor league franchise the Pensacola Blue Wahoos…a franchise that has been very successful in the last nine years since he took it over. He says downtown staduims are the way to go.
“We did some research and one of the things we found out is downtown stadiums, nobody could come up with a downtown stadium that has failed in the last 15 years. They can come up with stadiums by interstates that failed, but nobody could come up with something downtown.”
Studer also believes recent developments in downtown Beloit make a downtown stadium even more likely to work.
“I just love what Diane Hendricks (owner of ABC Supply Co.) and other people have been doing in Beloit. You sort of want to make sure that the city is moving in the right direction because people don’t just want to come down for a baseball game. They want to come down and sort of have energy around them.”
The new Beloit Stadium will be owned by the non-profit Riverbend Stadium Authority. It’ll be called ABC Supply Stadium, but the stadium is only one change in the works. The franchise will also be dropping the name Snappers and adding a new name. Some Snapper fans aren’t happy with that, but Studer says a new, catchy name, that will appeal to people all over the nation is essential to boosting merchandise sales. And strong merchandise sales are a must.
“Merchandise has become really, really vital. We looked at the Beloit Snapper name since it’s been around it only sold $37,000 worth of merchandise. The last time it had a good merchandise year was 2004.”
Then there’s the matter of the Beloit franchise getting an affiliation agreement with an MLB organization. Over the years Beloit has been affiliated with the Brewers, the Twins and most recently the A’s, but right now all affiliation agreements are open for all franchises. Major League Baseball will decide what minor league franchises remain affiliated with it’s teams and how they’ll pair up.
There’s so much territory to cover with all the changes in the Beloit franchise, for my complete interview with Studer click on this link.