Capital Credit Union Park lease transferred to new Booyah owner
By Kevin Boneske
ASHWAUBENON – To facilitate the change in ownership of the Green Bay Booyah, the village board Tuesday, Dec. 15, approved transferring the lease of Capital Credit Union Park from Big Top Ashwaubenon LLC/Green Bay Baseball LLC to Boomerang Stadium Holdings LLC/Boomerang Baseball LLC.
Village Attorney Tony Wachewicz said the series of assignment documents, which were part of the original lease between the Village of Ashwaubenon and Big Top concerning the operation of Capital Credit Union Park, included a master lease along with a sublease with the Northwoods League with respect to the baseball team.
“These documents on the agenda tonight are an assignment of that lease to Boomerang Baseball and the new owners of the Green Bay Booyah as part of their transaction,” he said. “They need to receive the village’s consent under the terms of our lease to assign that.”
Big Top president, Vern Stenman, and Boomerang vice president, Brian Stenzel, appeared before the board regarding the ownership change of the Booyah, who began playing last year at Capital Credit Union Park upon the construction of the stadium being completed.
Stenman said Booyah Vice President and General Manager John Fanta will be staying with the team to run its day-to-day operations under the change in ownership.
The two Northwoods League baseball teams in Madison and Kenosha remain under the ownership of Big Top, while Stenman’s ownership group will continue to operate the Green Bay Voyageurs soccer team.
Big Top moved the Green Bay Booyah last year to Capital Credit Union Park from Joannes Stadium, where the ball club was known for more than a decade as the Green Bay Bullfrogs, after efforts to build a new facility for the team in the City of Green Bay could not be finalized.
“It was not our original intent to get to this point of selling the franchise this early on in our operation of it,” Stenman said. “While it’s very short, family really drove the pursuit of the possibility of doing it at this point, and really, equally, the right person coming in.”
Stenman said he respected the village and the opportunities it gave Big Top by building the new stadium, and he didn’t want to put the lease and team “in the hands of someone that wasn’t going to not only sustain what we had already built, but we wanted to turn it over to someone we honestly felt could make it better and then continue to invest in the facility and then the community…”
“When we found out that Mark Skogen and Boomerang and his group (were interested) in acquiring the team, we literally couldn’t imagine a better fit, a better buyer,” he said.
Skogen is president and CEO of Festival Foods.
Stenzel, who represented Skogen, said Boomerang plans to keep the team’s current staff after meeting with them.
“We kind of laid out some of our thoughts of continuing with the excellence that’s been put on at the stadium to this point and some of our ideas moving forward,” Stenzel said. “We are definitely on the same page with the staff. We want to bring a lot of good quality entertainment, not only just Booyah baseball, but other outside events, rentals, etc., and keep the stadium as busy as possible.”
With Boomerang also in the process of converting the former Gordman’s department store at 2351 Holmgren Way into an entertainment venue known as the Epic, Stenzel said he will be overseeing Capital Credit Union Park and the Epic, though the two properties will be separate entities.
“The Booyah staff will be in charge of events and stuff at the Booyah stadium,” he said. “There is an Epic event general manager and entertainment manager there. There may be some sharing of staff at times – the part-time staff, concessions, bartending, that type of thing. And there may be some cross-promotion of concerts, we have the Booyah stadium rent out the facility for a concert that Epic would produce.”
The lease at Capital Credit Union Park was changed in July after the start of the Booyah season was delayed with the stadium’s seating capacity reduced last summer because of the COVID-19 pandemic, which affected Big Top’s ability to make rental payments.
In addition to extending the lease agreement by three years to make rental payments from 2038 to 2041, a $1 surcharge was added for every ticket sold.
The lease amendment stated the village will receive no rent in 2020 and 2021 when it was supposed to receive $260,000 in each of those two years.
A rent payment of $125,000 is called for in 2022 and then increase by 3 percent annually for a final rent payment of more than $219,000 in 2041.
Prior to the amendment being approved and a $1 ticket fee added, the lease payments called for included $260,000 in each of the first five years starting in 2019, then increasing to $265,000 in years 6-10 and $270,000 in years 11-20.
The multi-purpose stadium was built on land just south of the village hall for baseball, soccer and other community events.
It’s being paid for with a combination of lease revenue and a ticket sales fee, as well as Tax Incremental Financing revenues from other projects in the village.
Capital Credit Union Park was built to have a capacity of more than 3,000 for athletic events, room for 7,000-plus for concerts and community events and features club and suite space for up to 300 guests. The field has an artificial surface.