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Minor League Baseball Looks to Clawson for Ballpark

Team owner says upgraded City Park would be home to a pro team and spark economic growth.

Minor League Baseball Looks to Clawson for Ballpark

Professional baseball may be coming to Clawson.

A minor league baseball team wants to call Clawson home by revamping the City Park baseball field for its seasonal games and making it a landmark for family entertainment.

David Martin, president and general manager of Summit Professional Baseball, said he's been scouting locations in Oakland County for a home field. Summit Professional Baseball has already purchased the team, which will be part of the Frontier League — an independent professional league with teams across the country.

Martin presented the plan to the City Planning Commission on Tuesday, saying Clawson is an ideal community for the league.

"We feel Clawson is that all-American city that can host that all-American game," Martin said.

The games, played May-September, would bring business to Clawson from spectators, fans, visiting teams and seasonal jobs for operations at the park, he said.

His plan is to open with the 2012 season.

Summit Professional Baseball would invest around $1 million in the project and doesn't plan to use any public tax dollars, said Clawson School Board member Mike Bosnic, who is on the parks committee that met with Martin to discuss the plan.

"The economic growth could be amazing," said Martin, a former Clawson resident. 

Parks & Recreation Director Mickey Alderman agreed. "I think it's great," said Alderman, adding that he has been talking to Martin about this vision for years.

If the Planning Commission approves the proposition, Martin said Berkley-based Forsite Design would design the field. Upgrades would include lights, the field, fencing, locker rooms, food and concessions area and bleachers.

"We're going to improve what you have already," Martin said.

Bosnic said some school district officials support upgrading the field for minor league baseball. High school baseball and softball teams would also be able to use the field if they don't conflict with minor league games.

"I'm excited; I think it's a great proposal," Bosnic said. "Having this sort of capital investment in the area is going to get the community excited."

In addition to baseball games, Martin said he would like to organize events throughout the year at the field, such as winter festivals with an ice rink, baseball camps and concerts.

"Our No. 1 thing is fun," Martin said.

Martin must submit a site plan application for review by City Planning Consultant Vidya Krishnan. It will address crowd and traffic control at the park, security and protecting the quality of life for residents near City Park, Krishnan said.

Traffic was one of the key concerns residents had who live near the park.

"Traffic study would have to be done first," Clawson resident Cindi Averill said on the Clawson Patch Facebook page. "I don't want traffic on my street, all summer, like 4th of July night!"

Resident Christine Westgate Bender said she is worried about where all the cars will park.

"It seems like a mostly good idea," Bender said. "If the plan is to use street parking it changes my opinion a bit. I worry that our streets would become very crowded."

The news has also brought excitement to some residents.

"Bring on the minor league baseball!" Christa Kalcec said on Facebook.

After submitting the application, the City Planning Commission would discuss and possibly vote on it at a public hearing Aug. 23, Krishnan said.

City Commissioner Tina Airress said she would support bringing minor league baseball to Clawson. 

"I think it's going to be good for the community," Airress said. "I think it's going to put us on the map."

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