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Northwoods League agreement approved

Come September, Mitchell will know whether some of college baseball's top stars will step up to the plate next summer at Drake Field.

The Mitchell Parks and Recreation Board on Thursday gave the Northwoods League final approval to play 40 games at the Cadwell Sports Complex annually for five years. If the wood-bat summer league consisting of college baseball players does come to Mitchell, the city will receive $10,000 per year to use the facility.

With the unanimous approval of the agreement at Thursday's meeting at the Mitchell Recreation Center, the city will know by September whether the Northwoods League plans to play in town in 2018.

"They don't have to come in a year," Parks and Recreation Director Nathan Powell told the board.

The Northwoods League's option agreement gives it until Sept. 1, 2019 to decide whether it will expand to Mitchell. After the deadline, the option agreement will be terminated.

If the Northwoods League comes to Mitchell, Councilman Marty Barington is looking forward to seeing the team in action.

"I think any time we can get any kind of additional sport in town for the community and add to the activities, I think it's always a big plus," said Barington, the City Council's liaison to the board. "So I'm looking forward to having them come here and hope it's a plus, hope it works out for them."

If the league expands to Mitchell, it's closest neighbors could be the Mankato Moondogs and the Willmar Stingers, both roughly 225 miles away. Or, Huron could be the closest city to host a team, as the city just north of Mitchell received affiliate status earlier this year.

If the league does not expand to Mitchell over the course of the option agreement, Mitchell will receive $1,000 each year.

On Thursday, the board also approved a facility-use agreement and a concession agreement that would allow the league to operate a concession stand at Drake Field. And from the point-of-view of City Attorney Justin Johnson, who crafted the agreements, each will work out well for the city.

"Basically, I made a wish list and they agreed to everything," Johnson said.

By September, Mitchell residents will know if top tier baseball talent will be a regular feature of the next five summers in town. In past years, the league has brought future Major League Baseball stars through its ranks, including perennial Cy Young Award candidates Chris Sale and Max Scherzer, as well as 2016 World Series MVP Ben Zobrist.

The agreement received final approval on Thursday, according to Barington, and will not require a City Council vote.