Zimmerman pitches stadium plan for pro baseball and soccer in Oak Creek

Greenfield-based Zimmerman Ventures LLC wants to build a stadium for professional baseball and soccer, plus a domed indoor multi-sports complex, in Oak Creek.

The development could include a ballpark for independent minor league baseball team and a field for a minor league professional soccer franchise associated with Major League Soccer, according to a proposal submitted by Zimmerman Ventures to the City of Oak Creek. The development could also have a multi-use indoor sports complex/dome, according to the proposal.

The cost of the baseball/soccer stadium part of the project is estimated at $10.5 million. The stadium would have 1,800 armchair stadium seats, 1,500 bleacher seats for soccer and grass berm seating for 500, according to the proposal.

The indoor sports complex/dome would cost about $6 million.

The proposal does not have a specific funding plan but lists several potential funding sources including: facility naming rights, box suites, stadium/team operations, hotel room tax, food and beverage tax, sales tax, general obligation bonds, revenue bonds, tax incremental bond, loans, grants, joint agreements, private development/donations, and certificates of participation.

“Ideally the city of Oak Creek can become a strategic partner in this venture, which will assure the positive economic impact on the surrounding areas,” the Zimmerman Ventures proposal states.

Zimmerman Ventures chief executive officer Mike Zimmerman is also the CEO of The Rock Sports Complex in Franklin, which includes a ski hill, baseball fields and BMX and mountain biking facilities. He also leads the new ownership group of the Milwaukee Wave.

Zimmerman has been working on plans to bring a professional minor league baseball team from the independent Frontier League to the Milwaukee area. He originally planned to build a ballpark for the team at The Rock, but the Franklin Common Council rejected a proposal to provide tax incremental financing for the project.

Zimmerman said he would seek other communities to build the ballpark. He is now considering sites in Oak Creek.

Oak Creek Mayor Steve Scaffidi said he has had several meetings with Zimmerman and is giving him about 60 days to put together a plan for the project. The City of Oak Creek could provide some financing for the development, but the majority needs to come from private sources, Scaffidi said. He said Zimmmerman needs to find partners in the project that can provide the funding to get it done.

“We are not talking about (the city) being the sole investor in a new stadium,” Scaffidi said. “I don’t think that’s a model that would work for us. I have to think about our taxpayers. If it’s a plan with a lot of partners, I think there are things that we would be open to.”

Partners could include advertisers and sponsors, especially if the stadium is built on a high profile site near I-94, Scaffidi said. Several sites in Oak Creek are under consideration for the development including sites near the freeway, a site southwest of College and Pennsylvania avenues, where the United States Postal Service had at one time planned to build a new mail processing center, or sites near the mixed-use Drexel Town Square development at Howell and Drexel avenues.

A stadium development could also attract other private development such as a hotel or retail that could support the project, especially if it is built near the freeway, Scaffidi said.

The Zimmerman proposal says the project needs 7.5 to 9 acres for the baseball/soccer stadium and 10-20 acres for parking.

Other partners could include additional users of the stadium, such as the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee baseball team, which currently plays at Henry Aaron Field in Lincoln Park in Glendale. Scaffidi said city officials and Zimmerman will meet with UWM officials “probably within a week” to discuss the possibility of UWM’s baseball team playing in a ballpark in Oak Creek.

“We’re trying to figure out the right partners and how to make it viable,” Scaffidi said. “We’re meeting with anybody and everybody.”

Zimmerman wants to begin construction for the project in Oak Creek in the fall and to begin operations in 2015.

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