new Kapko Stadium
Concordia University is home for the Lakeshore Chinooks.
Chinooks will be one of 17 teams from Wisconsin, Minnesota, Michigan,
Iowa and Ontario competing in the Northwoods wooden bat baseball
league this summer. They are the circuit’s newest club, entering
their first season — and while they have yet to prove their merits
on the field, the Chinooks undoubtedly lead the league in owners who
are enshrined in Cooperstown.
if this is how Mr. Selig started?" asks Robin Yount, who along
with fellow minority owner Bob Uecker is in the Major League Hall of
Fame. Bucks General Manager John Hammond is also part of the ownership
group. "I don’t know if I have commissioner in my future but it
certainly is exciting to be involved with a baseball team on this side
of the fence," he says.
which plays a 70-game schedule from June 1 through Aug. 12 (the
Chinooks home opener is June 4), features college players undrafted by
the pros. The Chinooks will play at newly constructed Kapco Park on
the campus of Concordia University in Mequon. Kapco Metal Stamping in
Grafton made the lead donation for the facility, which will have one
of the most stunning vistas in all of baseball, overlooking Lake
The park will
open with 1,240 individual stadium seats (the same seats used at
Washington Nationals Park) with the ability to expand in the future.
There will also be bleachers, standing room and lawn seating.
expensive seat in the house is $11 for a reserved box seat, $8 for a
reserved grandstand and $5 for general admission.
affordable family fun," says Chinooks general manager Dean
Rennicke, who pitched in the Dodgers’ organization. "And with
this view, people can watch an inning or two, then walk around a bit
and check out the vistas."
coach John Vodenlich, whose Warhawks won the 2005 division three
national championship, will manage the Chinooks. At the team’s
official unveiling news conference in November, Vodenlich lamented he
had zero players. But MLB.com picked up the news conference, and
within days more than 100 college coaches contacted the Chinooks
offering the services of their top players.
On the field,
the Chinooks will get the opportunity to prove themselves to major
league scouts by playing against top competition and using wooden
bats. Off the field, college students will also be auditioning for
future positions by working with the club’s day-to-day operations.
students and young people want to learn the various facets of sports
management," says Jim Kacmarcik, Kapco’s president and the
majority owner and president of the Chinooks. "Things like
athletic training, journalism, broadcasting, marketing, social media.
We’ll need all those folks to help. We’ll build their resumes. We’ll
have some professionals on staff to mentor them."
"I want to
see our players get drafted by major league teams," Rennicke
says. "And I want to see kids selling tickets, media, whatever,
get a phone call and say, ‘I just got hired by the Mets or the
Brewers to be in their front office.’ That would be cool."
will be a community team in the purest sense. They are looking for
host families to house their players during the season and also hope
baseball is good for business in Mequon and benefits Concordia
University, a significant Mequon resident.
"This is a
great opportunity for people to come, restaurants to sell their stuff
... the list is endless of what we can accomplish here,"
bring a lot of folks to campus who wouldn’t necessarily come here
otherwise," says Dr. Patrick Ferry, Concordia University
president. "A great venue, family oriented activity. Baseball in
the summertime. It can’t get much better than that."
will have no problem finding a role model for inspiration. Robin Yount.
The Kid. Now, owner of a baseball team.
hearing one great thing after another," Yount says. "It made
more and more sense that it was the right thing to do."
management has been moving at lightning speed, putting a team
together, hiring a staff and supervising construction of a new
ballpark in a few short months.
exhilarating, but nerve-wracking," Rennicke says. "But we’ll
get it done."
Things to do at a Chinooks Game
1. Grab a
seat on the grass: Kapco Park will have ample lawn seating
available, so pull up a blade of grass or two, relax and enjoy
2. Do your
kids got game? Discover your child’s potential future in
baseball by testing their skills at the speed pitch and batting
within the game: There will be a bounce house and a playground
set in the kids’ area if your little ones need a diversion
from the action between the lines.
have a space where kids can be kids," Chinooks general
manager Dean Rennicke says.
friends with a fish: The Chinooks still unnamed mascot (you can
vote for the name at lakeshorechinooks.com) will be roaming the
ballpark posing for pictures and engaging in various hijinks
the view: Kapco Park sits on a piece of land overlooking Lake
Michigan. Stroll the grounds and you’ll see an amazing
panorama of Mother Nature.