Hoover Named NWL President, Rockford Team Announced

Northwoods League Logo wo WordmarkPRESS RELEASE – The Northwoods League, the country’s largest summer collegiate baseball league currently operating in the US and Canada, announced today that Gary Hoover has been promoted to President after serving as Vice President and General Counsel.

Hoover has served as the League’s General Counsel since 2007, and has been Vice-President since February 2014. In his capacity as VP and General Counsel, Hoover has worked on League expansion, facility leasing, and assisted in the development of new initiatives including an online ticketing system, video broadcasting agreements with Google/You Tube, and the creation of the Northwoods League Foundation, a 501(c)(3) tax- exempt corporation operating primarily in the communities where the Northwoods League has teams.

“I’m very excited to assume some of the duties previously held by Dick, and look forward to working with him and the very talented group of people in the League office,” said Hoover. “Dick co-founded the League and masterfully grown it to the point where we believe it has had an enormous influence on baseball nationwide. I plan to follow his cue and continue the League’s growth and having a positive impact on the Northwoods League, its Affiliates, and the communities where we play – while having fun.”

Dick Radatz, Jr. – who co-founded the Northwoods League in 1994 and who has served as President and CEO since 1996 – will maintain his role as Chairman of the Board. “I am pleased to pass the torch to Gary, as I have worked with him now for several years and have seen firsthand his commitment to the League and its development,” said Radatz. “While I will continue a very active role at the League, I enthusiastically welcome Gary as our new President and look forward to working with him as we team to make the League even stronger.”

Gary earned an MBA from the University of Denver, a Juris Doctorate from California Western School of Law, and Bachelor of Science Degree from Metropolitan State University. Gary is married with two grown children, and resides in Michigan.

Northwoods League Introduces New Team in Rockford, IL

PRESS RELEASE – The league where Chris Sale, Max Scherzer, Curtis Granderson, Mark Melancon and well over 100 other current and former major-league baseball players once spent their summers is coming to the Stateline.

Northwoods League Rockford

The Northwoods League announced on Tuesday, October 13, in a press conference at the BMO Harris Bank Center that it has awarded a franchise to the Rockford area for the 2016 season. The franchise will be owned and operated by Rockford Baseball Properties, LLC and will play its home games at a to-be renamed stadium in Loves Park.

“We’re excited to bring our product to the greater Rockford community and to the wonderful facility in Loves Park,” said Northwoods League President Dick Radatz, Jr. “The fact that 194 players got drafted last year kind of speaks for itself as far as the talent running around the Northwoods League and drawing over 1.1 million fans speaks to the quality experience we’re offering to fans league-wide.”

The team has signed a five-year lease with Gurnee-based Northside Bank, the owner of the ballpark at 4503 Interstate Blvd. previously known as RiverHawks Stadium, Road Ranger Stadium and Aviators Stadium. The Northwoods League team has no ties to any of the prior teams.

The team is owned by Radatz, a co-founder of the Northwoods League. Chad Bauer, the team’s general manager, has successfully launched new Northwoods League teams in Green Bay and Mequon, Wisc.

“Coming into a startup like Rockford, the top three things we want to accomplish are: elevating the appearance of the stadium, by cleaning and repairing the things that have been neglected; hiring a friendly and professional staff; elevating the quality of our concessions to a restaurant-quality level,” Bauer said. “We’ve found in other markets that these three things are key elements to successful franchises.”

With the addition of Rockford to the South Division the La Crosse Loggers will move from the South to the North Division for the 2016 season.


Filed under League & Franchise, Market & Location, Personnel & Operations

8 responses to “Hoover Named NWL President, Rockford Team Announced

  1. Bart

    As far as the Frontier League goes, I suspect they will drop down to 12 teams next year. The Rockford Aviators are gone. Since the league doesn’t have a team to immediately replace them, they’ll probably just dissolve the road team (Frontier Greys).

    As for Traverse City, that’s where I live. They’re coming off of their first Frontier League Championship. Attendance is still decent and support is still good for the team. I’d be shocked if they took a step down to the Northwoods League.

    • Thanks for the insights on the Frontier League’s future. I don’t think that TC going from the Frontier to the Northwoods would be a “step down.” The Northwoods League is the nation’s best-attended and well developed summer collegiate league. Rockford will bring the league’s team total to 19, and expansion is happening constantly. The Cape Cod League still has the reputation, but it can’t match the NWL in a number of different ways.

      Many of the nation’s top college players are now going to the NWL, and the alumni list (Scherzer, Sale, Zobrist, Granderson, etc.) will continue to grow as the league grows. Basically, the Northwoods League is becoming the nation’s best minor league-before-the-minor leagues. The Frontier League serves an important purpose for undrafted college players and roster cut victims, but it doesn’t match the NWL for player quality.

      My hats are off to the Beach Bums for all their success, but I still think they would be a better fit playing in a NWL division with Kalamazoo, Battle Creek, and any future Michigan-based teams.

      By the way, you live in an awesome part of the world. TC is about a 15 hour drive from where I live, but we make a family trip there every other year or so. Sleeping Bear might be the most beautiful stretch of shoreline in the Great Lakes.

      • eastfirst107

        Actually, Frontier to the Northwoods *would* be a step down.

        Successful FL clubs aren’t the ones joining the NWL. Former FL markets now in the NWL (Rockford, Battle Creek, Kalamazoo) all left the FL because they couldn’t generate the revenue or attendance needed to survive at the professional level.

        – The average FL club drew 107,000 fans in 2015. The average NWL club drew 60,000.
        – FL plays more home games (~50 vs ~34) – more opportunities for ownership to generate revenue.
        – Most FL teams play in stadiums specifically built for independent baseball in the last 10-15 years, in and around larger markets (Chicago, St. Louis, Cleveland, Pittsburgh). NWL clubs typically play in older stadiums in failed minor league markets, or in cities too small for pro ball in the first place.
        – The “player quality” argument isn’t apples-to-apples. More future MLBers? NWL, yes. But the Pioneer League also has more future MLBers than the Atlantic League, and nobody would say the PL has a higher quality of play.
        The average age of summer college guys is 19-21 – whereas FL is 23-24ish, many of whom have already played several years of pro ball. The extra experience makes a difference.
        – Number of teams is irrelevant – the Northwoods League also has more teams than both the American and National Leagues.

        Look, the Northwoods League has done an amazing job over the years, and is what other summer-college leagues should aspire to. Hats off to them. But just because they have a lot of teams and Ben Zobrist and Chris Sale played there, doesn’t mean it’s on the same level as pro ball.

      • Ol' Pete

        Considering the Aviators had trouble drawing beyond the pass list the last couple of seasons, a step down would be the grave.

      • Bart

        The Washington Wild Things have released their 2016 Frontier League schedule, and indeed there are only 12 teams. The Greys have been dissolved.

  2. Does this mean that the Frontier League’s Aviators will no longer exist, or will it be a shared facility?

    • ballparkbiz

      Radatz wouldn’t have signed a lease deal if he had to share the park. Securing an exclusive deal is minor league baseball/minor league-like summer collegiate baseball 101.


      • Thanks for the reply. Curious to see what happens with the Frontier League franchise.

        It’s been interesting watching the Northwoods League expand in the last few years. The league has occupied many/most former Midwest League markets. Not sure what is next, but I suspect that Dubuque would be a good fit. If Frontier League markets are in play, Chicagoland–especially Schaumburg–would make sense. The best fit would be Traverse City since there is such a great distance from TC to any Frontier cities, whereas Kalamazoo and Battle Creek are already forming a nice Michigan contingent in the NWL.

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