The American Association of Professional Baseball
added a 12th club to its roster that will soon play ball in a new 2,500-seat stadium in Lake Country.
A local investor group operating as Blue Ribbon Baseball LLC is building both the roster for the minor league team and the new stadium, which is slated to open in Oconomowoc in spring 2022.
The new team does not have a name, but it does have a local rival in the Milwaukee Milkmen
, a recently formed AAPB team whose homefield is at The Rock Sports Complex in Franklin.
“The addition of Lake Country will continue to enhance the level of play and quality of stadiums in the American Association and add to the regional rivalries throughout the Midwest that make our league special,” AAPB commissioner Joshua Schaub said in a statement.
The investor group backing the stadium and team includes Tom Kelenic, Tony Bryant, Sonny Bando and Tim Neubert.
Kelenic is also the owner and operator of Infinity Fields, a youth baseball park in Waukesha. His son, Jarred Kelenic, was a first round draft pick for the New York Mets in 2018 and now plays for the Seattle Mariners.
The investor group recently raised $2.8 million in a round of funding with an offering amount of $4 million, according to a U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. The capital was raised by a total of 25 investors, although the investor group will become the primary owners and will operate as managing partners of the new club.
The capital raise allowed investors to own 1% of Blue Ribbon Baseball – 40% of the company was sold to an investor pool with the remaining 60% owned by the investor group, Tom Kelenic said.
The new stadium is being constructed at the Pabst Farms Blue Ribbon industrial park in Oconomowoc. The property itself is called “Lake Country Live!” However, the ownership group is in the process of solidifying a naming rights deal for the stadium itself, Tom Kelenic said.
Outside of baseball season, an adjacent 30,000 square-foot multi-use indoor sports facility will house a training center, batting cages, a gym and a commercial kitchen. The site will also host community events, corporate gatherings, outdoor concerts and other sports teams from the area such as soccer, rugby and lacrosse.
Tom Kelenic says Lake Country is known for its long history in baseball. He expects the new stadium to draw interest from the more than 400,000 athletes and spectators that visit Infinity Fields in Waukesha each year.
“We’ve had incredible support from the community throughout the entire process and we recognize that baseball is part of the rich tradition in the Lake Country community,” Tom Kelenic said in a statement. "We’re excited to expand on that tradition and we’re very committed to bringing family-friendly entertainment that everyone can enjoy to the community.”
The new team is also asking the community to pitch names for the new team that best represent the Lake Country area.
To enter the contest, fans can go to lakecountrybaseball.com and submit their best ideas for a team name. Entries will be accepted through May 28, and the winner will have the honor of throwing out the first pitch on opening day.