Green Bay Bullfrogs to play at new $10 million facility in Ashwaubenon

Published: Feb. 7, 2018 at 3:17 PM CST
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The Green Bay Bullfrogs baseball team is moving from Green Bay to Ashwaubenon.

"I'm just embarrassed for our city council and I'm very disappointed for the city," said Mayor Jim Schmitt.

Big Top Baseball, owner of the Bullfrogs, says a $10 million multi-purpose facility for the Northwoods League club will be ready for the 2019 season.

The facility will be located on Holmgren Way, south of Ashwaubenon Village Hall. The village agreed to purchase five acres next to the building, signing the paperwork on Wednesday.

"Because of our city council being so difficult and so petty, they just went someplace else where they felt more welcome and they felt more certainty," said Schmitt.

Big Top says the stadium will be paid for with a combination of lease revenue from Big Top and tax increment financing revenue (TIF) from other projects on the north and east ends of Oneida Street.

The new stadium will have the capacity to hold 4,000 people for athletic events.

Ashwaubenon Village Manager Allison Swanson says the Bullfrogs approached the village about the project, which led to negotiations.

Big Top explained in a statement their decision to move out the city of Green Bay:

“Since purchasing the Bullfrogs more than four years ago, we have worked diligently with the City of Green Bay to develop a long-term facility improvement solution. Unfortunately, the lack of a firm solution and the continued uncertainty required us to pursue other options to secure our long-term future in the Green Bay market,” Big Top

owners Conor Caloia, Vern Stenman and Steve Schmitt said in a joint statement. “We would like to thank Mayor Jim Schmitt and Economic Development Director Kevin Vonck for their tireless efforts over the past four years and regret that we were unable to finalize a solution.”

Green Bay City Council member Joe Moore tells Action 2 News that he learned of the move from one of the owners of the Bullfrogs.

"I hope this is a wake-up call. Candidates running for city council, current incumbents in city council...I have been saying this for years, we are competing for business. We do not have developers beating each other up to come to Green Bay to do work," said Moore.

Another council member told Action 2 News the news came as a shock.

The Bullfrogs' decision to pull out of Green Bay tables the proposed downtown Shipyard development.

"I think it's a missed opportunity in terms of not having that team here...but really, we need to look at what we can do with that site and that property," said Development Director Kevin Vonck.

In December, the Green Bay City Council voted 8-3 to approve a development agreement for The Shipyard. The $13.5 million development included waterfront offices, homes, restaurants, and entertainment and sports venues on South Broadway near the Mason Street Bridge.

The plan was to build a new stadium for the Bullfrogs.

In November, Action 2 News reported that Mark Skogen, CEO of Festival Foods, said he was looking at other locations for an indoor concert facility proposed for the Shipyard.

"Sometimes there's a reputation of projects that can get delayed, held up, referred back and end up in this purgatory of council not deciding whether or not they want to move forward or not," said Vonck. "In this case it cost us a project...a very big project and a catalytic project for that neighborhood."

Big Top's agreement with the village of Ashwaubenon will go before the next board meeting, which is scheduled for Feb. 27.

Action 2 News is working to get reaction and will have full reports tonight.