OUR VIEW: Slow and steady with Northwoods League
The idea of bringing the Northwoods League to Mitchell was exciting.
And, of course, it's still possible.
But considering league officials waited until the last minute to decide its fate in Mitchell, along with the fact there are still significant concerns about local facility usage, we're not ready for an expansion here in 2018.
Why rush it?
The league and city could partner in the future, as there's a three-year option agreement that allows the Northwoods League to field a team for up to 40 games per year at Drake Field at our Cadwell Park Sports Complex.
But it needs to happen at the right time.
Too often, we've seen sports startups come and go in Mitchell, most of which fail miserably. Take, for example, the Dakota Magic.
The Dakota Magic, formed in 2016, was a flash-in-the-pan semi-professional basketball team that played its games at the Corn Palace. Despite reasonably-priced tickets and some Magic players with local ties, there wasn't much support from the Mitchell community.
And that's what we fear could have happened with the Northwoods League, if it's not done right.
We're excited about the possibility of top-tier college athletes playing in our city. Wouldn't it be exciting to see an up-and-coming pitcher who has a great chance at the Major Leagues take the mound at Drake Field?
While we love what the amateur baseball tournament brings to Mitchell, when it comes typically two out of every three years, there have been some notable names who've played Northwoods League ball, such as Boston Red Sox pitcher Chris Sale and 2016 World Series MVP Ben Zobrist of the Chicago Cubs.
The biggest question that remains and needs to be addressed is facility usage. We're not convinced that the Northwoods League would be a great partner with Mitchell's youth baseball squads in sharing Drake Field. Most of Mitchell's teener games are played on Drake.
We realize 2018 may have been a good trial year for the Northwoods League to hit Mitchell, considering the state amateur baseball tournament is being held in Sioux Falls this year.
But, we think, this allows city officials and the Northwoods League to further problem solve how to schedule games, both during tournament time and through the course of the summer.
It's slow and steady with this one, we say. Let's make sure we have the major kinks worked out before the Northwoods League arrives, rather than trying to work through them over the summer.
We'd hate to see another situation like the demise of the Dakota Magic happen for what otherwise could be a great opportunity for Mitchell.