Northwoods League not expected in Mitchell in 2019

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For now, the Northwoods League isn't coming to Mitchell in 2019.

But the city of Mitchell is leaving the door open for the popular summer collegiate wood-bat baseball league anyway.

The Northwoods League's option agreement with the city of Mitchell calls for the league to commit to playing in Mitchell by Sept. 1 prior to the upcoming season. The deadline has passed with no change, but Mitchell Parks and Recreation Director Nathan Powell said everything remains in a holding pattern.

"They are not committing to a team for 2019 at this time, but that can still change," Powell said in an email to The Daily Republic. "Our department does not commit to a schedule until January, so there is still time on our end."

Per a contract agreed to in May 2017, the league pays Mitchell $1,000 annually for each year it does not play in the city. Once the Northwoods League decides to exercise its option to play, the lease goes up to $10,000 per year to play at Drake Field at the Cadwell Sports Complex.

The agreement also calls for exclusive concession rights and signage rights at Drake Field. That contract between the league and the city expires on Sept. 1, 2019.

The Northwoods League showed interest in Mitchell as an expansion site in 2017 but there hasn't been much movement since then. Expansion would have to occur in pairs, and the league holds a similar agreement in Huron to use Memorial Park for games.

The league currently has 20 teams and appears to have two more teams linked up for 2019. The St. Croix River Hounds, located in Hudson, Wis. on the Minnesota-Wisconsin border, intend to begin play next year in a new stadium. And the Kokomo (Ind.) Jackrabbits, a team that has existed since 2014, intend to move into the Northwoods League for 2019 from a similar competing league. The 2019 league schedule is slated to be announced in November.

The league, which has been in operation since 1994, consists of unpaid collegiate players who aspire to play professional baseball and the schedule is geared toward providing a minor-league experience, playing 72 regular-season games in the span of about 76 days. The season runs from late May to mid-August, with teams in Illinois, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, North Dakota, Wisconsin and Ontario, Canada.