A new collegiate summer baseball team is coming to Kokomo, city officials announced today.
The team, which will begin play next year, is a part of the Prospect League, a summer league whose teams are made up of college baseball players.
Indiana already has two other teams in the league–the Richmond RiverRats and the Terre Haute Rex.
The Kokomo team will be named through an online contest the team owners launched today.
Anyone who wants to submit a name can do so online over the next 30 days. The chosen name will receive $2,500, tickets to team’s 30 home games and some team merchandise.
The games will be played in the new $9 million, 4,000-seat baseball stadium the city is building near Wildcat Creek.
When he announced plans to build the Kokomo Municipal Stadium earlier this year, Mayor Greg Goodnight said his goal was to have a nicer facility for high schools, tournaments and traveling teams.
He also hinted that he would like to see a minor league, or some other team, develop because of the project.
“It’s a good business model we think for our city,” Goodnight said after the announcement of the new team. ”Kokomo is very affordable. It is a regional employer for this part of the state in Central Indiana, but we want to make sure it’s also a fun place for young people and families to live.”
The Kokomo team will lease the stadium from the city for at least $22,500 and will share responsibility for paying the utilities and maintaining the facilities.
High school teams will also be allowed to play on the fields free of charge.
MKE Sports and Entertainment, a Milwaukee-based company that has recently invested in a few other sports teams, will own the team.
MKE Sports and Entertainment CEO Mike Zimmerman says the new stadium, along with Kokomo’s larger initiatives to improve the city, are what attracted him to invest there.
“It says that there is a kind of entrepreneurial spirit going on in Kokomo, so that excited me,” Zimmerman says. “Just the fact that the baseball stadium is downtown has an urban baseball feel to it, which is an emerging trend in baseball right now, that, as an entrepreneur excited me.”
Zimmerman says the investment in the Kokomo team is and needs to be a serious one, which is underlined by the recent financial struggles of the Terre Haute Rex.
“In the baseball business, you’ve got to be very deliberate. You can’t treat it as a hobby. We’re going to have a better chance because we can spread the cost over three or four different teams,” he says. “I wouldn’t say I’m worried about it to the extent that it’s at risk, but we’ve got our work cut out for us.”
The stadium, which is on schedule to be complete April 1, is also part of the city’s plan to mitigate flooding.
The city has recently been buying property in a floodplain after experiencing devastating floods last year. As a part of the stadium’s construction, the city will conduct further mitigation efforts around the same area.