Beloit’s shiny-new ABC Supply Stadium, 217 Shirland Ave., nestled between the Rock River and Beloit City Hall, is more than just the new home of the Beloit Snappers baseball team, the High-A affiliate of the Miami Marlins.
This new gem, which opened in early August, is designed to boost the local economy – and it didn’t cost taxpayers a dime.
“The stadium is built for events and programming to take place 365 days a year,” says Celestino Ruffini, CEO of Visit Beloit. “That’s an entirely new level of product that’s never been offered in downtown Beloit. We’ve never had an attraction of that magnitude built with the focus of something happening every day of the year.”
The stadium cost $37 million to build and was privately funded by local businesswoman Diane Hendricks, owner of ABC Supply Co.
Because the facility is a multi-use amenity, it qualified for a 501(c)(3) status, meaning capital donations could be used to fund the stadium.
“It’s the first stadium like this that’s funded with zero tax dollars in the country. That doesn’t happen anymore, but it happened here in Beloit,” Ruffini says.
Community leaders anticipate that restaurants and other small businesses will grow up around the stadium. The facility was intentionally designed to have just 148 parking places adjacent to it, meaning visitors will park throughout downtown Beloit and walk past small businesses on their way to the stadium.
Beloit is one of 120 cities in the country with a minor league baseball team and its team is now locked in for 20 years.
The stadium features a grandstand with several administrative offices, top-of-the-line player facilities, concessions, restrooms and a 300-person stadium club available year-round. The main concourse wraps around the stadium.
The 135,000-square-feet of artificial field turf enables the stadium to host non-baseball events like soccer and football.
When the Snappers play, the stadium’s capacity is 3,500 people, but upwards of 6,000 can squeeze in during non-baseball events.
The Snappers formerly used Pohlman Field, 2301 Skyline Dr., for 38 years.
“Pohlman Field was built as a baseball stadium for baseball events, and there are a few more than 70 games a year taking place there,” Ruffini says. “Outside of that, it’s quiet and the lights are off. With this stadium, baseball is the primary tenant, but the complex is designed so the other 280 days can also be filled and that’s what we’re most excited about.”
The playing surface is similar to turf used by the Miami Marlins. The stadium has the feel of Oriole Park at Camden Yards, home of the Baltimore Orioles.
“That was the stadium we were going after with the bullpens in left field, the wall design and the overall look,” says Brent Bartels, media and public relations manager for the Beloit Snappers.
The new stadium has a 40×40-square-foot, high-definition videoboard.
“It’s probably the staple of this place,” Bartels says. “Pohlman didn’t have a scoreboard, so it’s cool that we can actually show highlights during the game.”
Food vendors are scattered throughout the stadium. In right field, there’s a place for food trucks to park. The stadium has five concession concepts, ranging from street tacos to traditional hot dogs and nachos.
Baseball fans won’t pay much more to attend games. “Ticket prices are increased $1 compared to Pohlman Field, which we think is understandable, since you’re going to a brand-new ballpark,” Bartels says.
The stadium also has two large banquet halls that can accommodate 300 people for special events.
The Beloit Health System Club is a 5,000-square-foot luxury club with an outdoor balcony and indoor seating with stunning views of the Rock River.
The First National Bank and Trust group suites have room for 100 guests with balcony and indoor seating.
Season ticket holders have a private kitchen, bathrooms and upscale food options.
The new stadium was literally built to impress; if the team’s stadium wasn’t up to league standards, Beloit would’ve lost its minor league baseball team.
“We were one of the 40 teams that were going to be cut, but with this facility, everything changed,” Bartels said.
Last December, Beloit was invited to be an affiliate of the Miami Marlins as part of the new Professional Development License (PDL) system put in place by Major League Baseball to update the player development system.
“In order for a minor league team to be affiliated with a major league team, they need a PDL and with that license comes rules and regulations that your stadium and ownership has to abide by,” says John Gackstetter, representative of the River Bend Stadium Authority, the nonprofit organization tasked with designing, developing and owning ABC Supply Stadium.
“ABC Stadium is the only minor league stadium that meets all of the new rules and regulations.” ❚