Minor league baseball team could be coming to Franklin

FRANKLIN (WITI) -- The Rock Sports Complex in Franklin is looking to build a minor league baseball stadium. Owners are hoping to break ground in a few months and start playing ball by next year -- but before moving forward, they'll need permission from the city.

On Thursday evening, March 20th, owners took their proposal before the city to ask for a permit.

"In order for me to keep the franchise, we've got tight timelines so we want to be moving dirt in May," said Michael Zimmerman, owner of The Rock.

The team would join the Frontier League, which has 14 teams in places such as Rockford and Schaumberg, Illinois. The stadium would be constructed on the western half of the complex's 140-acre property.

"It'll fit about 3,000 people. It's got about 2,000 hard seats and then it's got a nice beer garden in the right field," explained Zimmerman.

Franklin residents packed City Hall to give their input on the $10.5 million project.

Those who live near the property are concerned about noise from the games, as well as concerts and fireworks The Rock plans to host.

"Our concerns are many. One is the noise regulations," said stadium opponent Dale Kiener. "They're talking about a rock concert -- will it be done by 10 o'clock at night?"

Most in the crowd relayed their support for building the baseball stadium.

"I've had the opportunity to play baseball there. I've seen the economic development as far as kids getting jobs," said Allan Pascutti.

The Rock is asking for financial help from Franklin, however a final dollar amount hasn't been released.

"I asked the city for a partnership and the reason I did that is that's how these stadiums are done all across the United States," said Zimmerman.

At one point during Thursday night's meeting, a poll was taken. Of the people in the room, 100 supported the project and just 20 were against it.

A city task force has been formed in an effort to hammer out the details of how much the city will pay for the project. A final decision on the permit and funding will be made by the full board some time in the near future.

The Rock estimates the new stadium would create about 250 jobs. The estimated economic impact is about $10 million per year.

A financial proposal from The Rock to include how much the city may pay vs. how much The Rock may pay will likely be revealed on March 25th -- when the task force meets next.