LA CROSSE, Wisconsin (WXOW) - Baseball at Copeland Park is alive and well.
The city of La Crosse and the La Crosse Loggers reached an agreement late Thursday night to renew the team's lease for 10 years.
A dispute over liability language in the lease had delayed the agreement. On Thursday, the council held a closed-session meeting to discuss the lease that lasted nearly 90 minutes, and then further discussed it again at the end of the meeting.
Finally, the city agreed to take on shared liability while the Loggers agreed to increase their insurance requirements for the next 10 seasons.
"We feel good the agreement is in place and we're excited to move forward," Chris Goodell, Loggers General Manager said.
The agreement means the $650,000 upgrades planned for Copeland Park are still a go.
"It's going to change the dynamics of the entire presentation out here at the ball park dramatically and for the good. We're excited to put these pieces together," Goodell said.
The Loggers hope to begin upgrades this fall.
"By the time we get everything in place, get going we're looking at not only the facility you see here today behind us but a brand new turf infield, video board, batting cage," Goodell said.
The Copeland Park lease agreement will benefit more than just the Loggers. The University of Wisconsin-La Crosse baseball team will call Copeland home beginning next season, and Central High School, Western Technical College, teams with the American Legion, and teams with the Stars of Tomorrow tournament will all see action on the field.
"The facility we get to play at Copeland is going to be significantly better than what we have been playing on and is going to be the best in the league if not one of the best in the Midwest," Chris Schwarz, Head Baseball Coach, UW-La Crosse said.
The turf may even help teams improve their game.
"Its exciting to know our infielders will get a consistent bounce," Schwarz said.
"We had winter out here until May last year," Goodell said. "You can push snow off this and play out here so we'll have more ability to get game in that regard."
The next step for the Loggers is installing phase one of the upgrades, the turf, and finding funding for phase two, the batting cages and video board.
The next step for UW-L is signing the City Usage Agreement.
"Part of that conversation is playing at Copeland because it's a city owned facility in trade for them to use some of our facilities on campus," Schwarz said.
When all is said and done everyone agrees Copeland Park will be the best baseball facility around.
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