A new proposal being floated for The Rock

Michael Zimmerman wants to add an outdoor stadium and indoor sports complex


Last updated on August 26th, 2019 at 03:08 pm

A year after being turned down for a city-financed baseball stadium in Franklin, Developer Michael Zimmerman will be back next week with a proposal for The Rock Sports Complex.

The proposal includes an outdoor stadium that could accommodate minor league baseball teams and an indoor sports complex, said John Dargle, Milwaukee County parks director.

“We’re excited,” Dargle said. “Anything we can do to attract new development into our parks system is exciting. We think he’s willing to make some of his own investment in the park and the community.”

Zimmerman has been meeting with neighbors, city officials and the Milwaukee County Parks Department, which owns The Rock property, to discuss his plans for the complex.

He will present his proposal to the Milwaukee County Committee on Parks, Energy and Environment Tuesday morning and at a special meeting of the Franklin Common Council Tuesday night.

Zimmerman, whose Greenfield-based Zimmerman Ventures LLC owns and operates the Milwaukee Wave, Rockford

Aviators, Kokomo Jackrabbits, Jamestown Jammers and other entertainment venues under the MKE Sports & Entertainment umbrella, could not be reached for comment.

Zimmerman transformed the former Crystal Ridge Ski Hill, at the northwest corner of West Loomis Road and South 76th Street, into The Rock, a multi-sport complex with a ski hill, baseball fields, mountain biking trails and a BMX track.

He wanted to build a $10.5 million minor league ballpark at The Rock and secured a franchise for a team from the independent Frontier League.

Zimmerman sought a public-private partnership with the City of Franklin to finance the ballpark but was unanimously rejected in April 2014 by the Franklin Common Council.

Joel Dietl, planning manager for the City of Franklin, said Zimmerman has been meeting with city officials and Mayor Steve Olson, to see if there is support for his new concept at the Rock.

Zimmerman has not said if he will seek TIF financing for this project, Dietl said.

Zimmerman purchased a 26-acre former horse farm at 8490 W. Old Loomis Road from James and Lorraine Paradinovich in January for $1.38 million. Old Loomis Road is the frontage road for Loomis Road.  That land has been included in preliminary plans for TIF redevelopment, the Rock property was not, Dietl said.

“Last time the city wasn’t warmed up to it, but if we go hand- in-hand with him to pitch the presentation, it could happen,” Dargle said. “It’s an exciting time. We see a great partner in Mike Zimmerman and what he’s doing at the Rock.”

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