Milwaukee Milkmen stadium has new name after last deal went sour

A rendering of new Franklin Field signage

After a previous naming rights deal turned sour, ROC Ventures has partnered with the Franklin Tourism Commission to rename the home field of the Milwaukee Milkmen.

ROC Ventures and the commission are also partnering to create a city-wide tourism initiative known as Engage Franklin. The initiative will have a visitors center near Franklin Field, the new name for the baseball stadium at the Ballpark Commons mixed-use development.

Mike Zimmerman, chief executive officer of ROC Ventures, developer of the Ballpark Commons and owner of the Milkmen, said having professional baseball has always been an important part of the project.

“Our goal has always been to bring entertainment, sports, and retail to the community for residents and visitors, and the multi-faceted Engage Franklin partnership with Franklin Tourism centered on the home of the Milwaukee Milkmen is terrific synergy,” Zimmerman said.

Amy Schermetzler, chair of the Franklin Tourism Commission, said the Ballpark Commons represents a commercial and entertainment focal point for the region.

“If you want to reach visitors to the area and deliver an effective message about what Franklin has to offer, you can’t do much better than the home of the Milkmen,” she said.

ROC Ventures originally announced a 10-year, seven-figure naming rights deal for the field with Routine Baseball in the fall of 2018. While the company’s name and logo were featured prominently at the stadium when it opened last year, the two sides never finalized an agreement and ended up in court.

The cases was settled last fall.

More recently, Franklin Field was selected as one of three sites where the American Association of Independent Professional Baseball would stage games as part of an abbreviated season.

“It’s a great platform from which to promote Franklin as a destination,” said Shaun Marefka, vice chair of the Franklin Tourism Commission. “While the impact of COVID-19 will necessarily lower attendance allowed in stadiums, we will be able to deliver our message to a wide variety of visitors nonetheless.”

“We may very well become, literally, the only game in town,” Zimmerman said. “That’s hard to beat.”

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Arthur covers banking and finance and the economy at BizTimes while also leading special projects as an associate editor. He also spent five years covering manufacturing at BizTimes. He previously was managing editor at The Waukesha Freeman. He is a graduate of Carroll University and did graduate coursework at Marquette. A native of southeastern Wisconsin, he is also a nationally certified gymnastics judge and enjoys golf on the weekends.

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