State baseball staying at Fox Cities Stadium

State baseball staying at Fox Cities Stadium

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State baseball staying at Fox Cities Stadium

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Two popular venues will remain the home for high school state tournament action at least through 2020.

The WIAA announced an extension Friday to keep the spring state baseball tournament at Time Warner Cable Field at Fox Cities Stadium in Grand Chute, the home of the Wisconsin Timber Rattlers.

Meanwhile, the 11-person WIAA board of control voted unanimously to begin negotiations on a long-term agreement with PMI Entertainment Group to keep the girls’ state basketball tournament at the Resch Center in Ashwaubenon through 2020.

The state baseball tournament moved to Fox Cities Stadium in 1998, after being held at Athletic Park in Wausau from 1973 to 1997.

“It’s a great venue,” longtime Hortonville coach Don Williams said of the Rattlers’ home. “To have such a great facility for the players and for the fans and the parking and concessions and all the improvements they made, I can’t really ever see it leaving there.”

Williams, who coached the Polar Bears to the Division 2 state title in the tournament’s final year at Wausau and then to a repeat title in the first year at Fox Cities Stadium, says support is strong among coaches for the state tournament to stay in the Fox Valley.

“I talk to a lot of coaches around the state and they just rave about the place,” Williams said. “It’s really a great experience for the kids.”

Fox Cities Stadium underwent a major renovation last winter. A new club level with six suites and a year-round banquet facility was the centerpiece of the additions. The concessions stands, restrooms and team store were also part of the renovation.

Kimberly baseball coach and athletic director Ryan McGinnis said the quality of the playing surface is the No. 1 draw for players and coaches.

“I think there are a lot of reasons why but the biggest reason why is (head groundskeeper) Eddie Warczak,” McGinnis said. “They have that field immaculate all the time, which is amazing with all the things that go on at that field. They have that thing looking pristine all the time. Coaches know and kids know when they go there it’s going to be a first-class playing facility.”

The state girls’ basketball tournament debuted at the Resch Center in March and the tournament saw a 31-percent increase in attendance from the previous year in Madison. Until the move to the Green Bay area in March, the girls’ state tournament was held in Madison every year since its inception in 1976.

“The fact it was unanimous is a very strong endorsement that this was a nice fit and a great event,” WIAA executive director Dave Anderson said of the board of control vote. “I think the level of support is indicative of the very many positives we left Green Bay feeling but also had reinforced in the couple of months since.”

Anderson said he also would like to extend the contract of the girls’ state volleyball tournament at the Resch Center through 2020. The current deal runs through 2014. The state volleyball tournament has been at the Resch Center since 2002.

— Press-Gazette Media contributed to this report.

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