SBD/August 27, 2014/Facilities

GSE Founder Andy Appleby Plans Privately Funded Ballpark In Utica, Michigan

Appleby's 2,500-seat park would be used by independent developmental teams
Michigan-based General Sports & Entertainment Founder Andy Appleby last week "unveiled plans to build" an $8-10M ballpark in Utica, Mich., that would open in '15 or '16, according to Bill Shea of CRAIN'S DETROIT BUSINESS. Appleby is also "creating an independent league of three developmental teams to jointly use the 2,500-seat stadium for a May-September schedule." He intends to "lease the stadium out for events." The company for "several years owned" the Single-A Midwest League Fort Wayne Wizards. GSE said that it is "using its prior baseball management experience as a business template for the new venture." GSE Dir of Research & Strategy Zain Masters said, "The financial model for this project was based on the Fort Wayne Wizards -- operationally speaking, it is similar, but it cannot be specifically compared." Shea noted other "potential revenue-generating uses for the ballpark are envisioned for the stadium, including fireworks, concerts, graduation ceremonies, Little League games, youth soccer games and high school sports." Masters said that "installing an ice skating rink on the field during the winter is another possibility." GSE "isn't disclosing a timeline for the project to show a profit." Appleby said that his experience with the minor-league club is "fueling his desire to do the Utica project." He wrote in an e-mail, "We fell in love with minor-league baseball when we owned the Fort Wayne Wizards, and ever since then we thought that metro Detroit would be a perfect market for this sort of project." GSE is "paying the entire cost of the stadium and mixed-use development." Masters said the project will be "financed through a mixture of equity and debt." He added that "no local public money or tax breaks are involved" (, 8/24).
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