GREEN BAY - With this weather, baseball might not be on the minds of many, but the new owners of the Green Bay Bullfrogs are already making moves to try to turn around the team's on field and off-field performance.
The new owners are no strangers to baseball's Northwoods League.
“We've got a model that we really believe in and we're excited to bring that model here to Green Bay,” said Conor Caloia, co-owner of the team.
Green Bay Baseball LLC bought the team in November. The group also owns and operates other teams in the college summer league in Madison, Wisconsin Rapids and Kenosha.
The group has held two listening sessions with fans this winter, hoping to bring the success it has seen in its other cities to Green Bay.
Last year, the Bullfrogs' average attendance was third lowest in the 16-team league, with a win-loss record at the bottom of its division.
“It came to our attention at that time that there was some attention that needed to be taken to the facility,” said Liz Kern, co-owner of the team.
The group plans to spend $63,000 on upgrades to the 85-year-old Joannes Stadium. The upgrades include a new centralized main entrance near left field and attractions for young fans, including a sand area. Similar to the stadium in Madison, a major league style net will replace the chain link fence behind home plate. A concession stand like this one will also be built.
The team plans to pay for the improvements.
Wednesday evening, the city's parks committee unanimously approved the team’s plans. The city council is expected to approve them next week.
“If we make decisions based on the fan, we think, we'll have some success down the road,” said Caloia.
One thing the new owners aren't looking at is a new stadium. The previous owners were interested in one, possibly on property next to the Fox River downtown. In its presentation to the city, the new owners said that isn't feasible.
“As we're here, this first year, we're really trying to get familiar with everything and get an understanding of the facility and we've had some great conversations with the city and definitely trying to focus on getting things in motion for 2014 and develop a plan as we get a little bit further into things,” said Kern.
Opening day is May 27th.