GRAND CHUTE - It's the crack of the bat and the atmosphere that keeps fans coming back to Fox Cities Stadium.
Team president Rob Zerjav hopes a more than $5 million upgrade to the stadium will keep the fans coming through the gates for years to come.
"We want people to have a good time when they come out to the ballpark, just make it a lot easier for people to enjoy the game and not have to wait in line," he said.
The renovations will double the number of bathrooms at the stadium, expand the size of the team store and add to and improve concessions. But the biggest and most visible change will be adding a second level behind home plate, with suites and a banquet facility available for use year round.
The project is being funded by a $400,000 grant from the Fox Cities Convention and Visitors Bureau, contingent upon the stadium continuing to be called Fox Cities Stadium. The Timber Rattlers will pay for the rest. But Zerjav says fans shouldn't worry, ticket prices aren't going to change anytime soon.
"The rent payments we are going to be making are basically the same and then they are just going to go toward the renovation to pay for the stadium so there was no thought, it never crossed my mind to increase ticket prices to pay for this, that won't be the case at all," he said.
Zerjav says the renovations to the stadium weren't necessary, but says they will improve the visitor experience. 25% more fans are attending since the team became an affiliate of the Brewers in 2009. Jim Riedl is part of the Fox Cities Amateur Sports Authority which owns the stadium. He agrees the timing is perfect for improving an already great product both on the field and off.
"We want to continue to upgrade, modify and bring it up to date with things that are modern in the baseball world," said Reidl.
The renovations also increase the chances the team continues it's affiliation with the Milwaukee Brewers well beyond the current contract which expires in 2014. An agreement Brewers Minor League Operations Manager Scott Martens doesn't see going away anytime soon.
"It's a great relationship, can you make a great relationship better, I don't know, but I look forward to continuing this great relationship for years to come."
The project is slated to being as soon as the season ends and should be completed in time for opening day next April.
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