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Before they build it, city must say 'yes'

Baseball academy eyes rural land

May 4, 2010

Franklin — Farmland near the south end of 27th Street could be converted into baseball fields.

Does that idea sound familiar?

It is the plot of the classic baseball movie "Field of Dreams," yes. But it could also be a real-life scenario playing out in Franklin.

The owner of Hitters Baseball Academy in Racine says his business has grown too large for the space there and wants to build an even bigger complex in Franklin.

Fielding ideas

His proposal features four outdoor baseball fields and a 75,000-square-foot building, with indoor batting cages, pitching mounds and two infields, on a 43-acre site at about 3700 W. County Line Road.

The academy draws members from southeastern Wisconsin and northern Illinois who participate in hitting, throwing and strength-training programs to prepare for college baseball.

In addition, the facility could potentially host a collegiate developmental league team, national tournaments, corporate events and rental opportunities for local groups.

At bat with the city

But before any pitches will be thrown, the academy must win the approval of the Franklin Common Council.

That may not be an easy task. Some aldermen said Tuesday they love the concept for Franklin but disagree with the proposed location near 27th Street.

Those aldermen want Hitters to consider building elsewhere in the city, saying it does not necessarily mesh with the long-term vision for the corridor and the location may not be equipped to handle such a facility.

"I'm 100 percent in favor of the facility," Alderman Tim Solomon said. "You can put in tomorrow. I'm just very, very concerned about this location."

Mayor Tom Taylor implored the council to find a way to make Franklin the baseball academy's home, saying the plan "would literally make Franklin the hub of baseball for this entire area."

"This is one of the most exciting things that we have had come in our community," he said. "This is just an absolutely great program."

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