Kenosha Kingfish Baseball Club
7817 Sheridan Road, Kenosha
Industry: Sports entertainment
Employees: Nine full-time, 200 seasonal
The Kenosha Kingfish Baseball Club just wrapped up its fourth season. The team averaged more than 2,500 fans a game and sold out 33 of its 36 games this season.
“Our fans have been great. The community support is unmatched and the corporate community has been a great support over the last four years, as well,” said Conor Caloia, chief operating officer of Big Top Baseball. “We’re very fortunate to be in such a great community.”
The team debuted in the fall of 2013 as part of the Northwoods League under the parent organization Big Top Baseball, which also oversees the Madison Mallards, Wisconsin Rapids Rafters and Green Bay Bullfrogs.
The Kenosha area’s booming economy and strong corporate community was one reason the Kingfish settled in Kenosha, Caloia said.
“We’ve been very lucky,” Caloia said. “We came to the area at a time when growth was already strong. We know that’s only going to continue.”
Access to Historic Simmons Field was also important, Caloia added. Simmons Field opened in Kenosha in 1920. It was home to the Simmons Bedding Co. baseball team, and could seat 7,000 at the time. The stadium has been home to several teams over the years, including the Kenosha Twins, a Minnesota Twins minor league team, from 1984-92.
Simmons Field had fallen into disrepair until the Kingfish, in partnership with the City of Kenosha, invested more than $1 million to help restore the 83-year-old ballpark in 2013.
The ballpark now features 2,100 stadium seats, several corporate hospitality areas, a party deck and general admission lawn seating.
In the inaugural season, the Kenosha Kingfish finished 41-30 overall.
The Kenosha community quickly fell in love with the team, helping the Kingfish earn an eighth place national ranking of attendance per game in the summer collegiate leagues.
The Kingfish organization sees itself as community equity. The players, coaches and staff want to be involved.
“We’re out and about in the community, our mascot and players make appearances at several events, and the stadium serves as an excellent venue for the community, as well,” Caloia said. “Kenosha is so collaborative, and our relationship with KABA and other community organizations has been instrumental in the growth of our organization. We enjoy being a part of the community.”
The team is interested in long-term success in the community, Caloia added.
In the next 30 days, the team plans to unveil a new five-year stadium plan and other community investments.
The Kingfish survey fans and ticket holders at the end of each season and listen to what the community wants.
“We’re in the entertainment business, too,” Caloia said. “In addition to being a responsible community partner, our goal is to provide affordable family-friendly entertainment for people in the community. We will continue to do that and make enhancements to the game experience that provide family fun for the community.”
Caloia credits the team’s success not only to the community, but to the team’s dedicated full- and part-time staff.
“The community, our ticket holders, host families and our staff have allowed us to continue to grow and be successful,” he said. “It’s a group effort, and we couldn’t do it without the support of everyone involved.”