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Leaders believe Northwoods team can co-exist with Mitchell teams

If there's a potential Northwoods League team coming to Mitchell, that will likely create a crunch on available baseball fields at Cadwell Sports Complex.

But for the time being, leaders of the Mitchell Baseball Association aren't too worried about adding a summer collegiate wood-bat team to the busy baseball fold in town, playing up to 40 games from late May to mid-August.

MBA Director of Baseball Luke Norden, who also coaches the spring high school team and summer Legion squad, said he feels that Mitchell's baseball teams will have no problem adapting to a new tenant.

"What we've been told is that we're just going to be playing more games at Cadwell with our younger teams," Norden said. "For the younger teams, that might be good for us. For practice, we're going to have to figure some things out."

For now, the new team remains a proposal, although the Mitchell Parks and Recreation Board will consider a Northwoods League agreement during its monthly meeting 4 p.m. Thursday at the Mitchell Rec Center.

As part of the approval measure, the plan calls for the Northwoods League team to get first preference on home dates at Drake Field, while Mitchell's Legion varsity team would have up to 12 home dates at the Cadwell Park stadium. (During the 2017 season, Post 18 is scheduled for 11 home dates, not counting the Legion region tournament in July.) Under the plan, Drake Field is also set to be the home field for teener level teams, too. The proposed lease agreement calls for the franchise to pay $10,000 to the city per season of usage.

MBA Board Vice President Nathan Sparks said based on what Northwoods franchise representatives have told him, it should be something the Cadwell complex can handle.

"I think it's going to come down to being able to manage the fields and everyone's schedules," he said. "There's good staff at the park and they'll be able to keep the field in shape. There will be a lot of sorting out game times and practice times and we've been told that it shouldn't be much of an issue."

Norden said the Northwoods League team won't be practicing on a daily basis, instead showing up their games three or more hours ahead of time for fielding practice and to take batting practice.

"They're going to be out here for hours before each game," he said. "That will cut into our practice time and we're going to have to find a way to make that work."

But as a whole, Norden finds himself excited to see what can happen with a summer team in town.

"On our end, I think it's only going to spark the interest in baseball a little bit more," he said. "I don't know that they're going to be able to expect huge crowds right away because I think it could be tough."

The fact that Mitchell had two high-quality baseball diamonds side-by-side was a major factor in the Northwoods League targeting the community, league chairman Dick Radatz Jr. told The Daily Republic earlier this year. He said using Drake Field won't be a problem on their end, even though their first preference was to use the larger Cadwell Park stadium.

Norden said Northwoods League teams have been part of helping improve ballparks and he said that could be an added benefit of having a team in Mitchell.

"They've done some really good things in other cities where they've done upgrades on fields, so hopefully that's something they're interested in doing," he said. "I think they're going to take care of things and having a team like that comes with a lot of responsibilities for our town to support the team."