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Jackalopes won't be ready for Expedition League 2020 season

  • Updated

In May the Expedition League, a summer college baseball league, announced that a team would be in Rapid City, where the league offices are located.

On Tuesday, Expedition League President Steve Wagner said that team was still at least one more year away. It isn't a problem with the league or the baseball fans in Rapid City, the Jackalopes simply don't have a suitable stadium where they can play.

Wagner said McKeague Field, the field the Jackalopes will likely call home, is in need of an investment of about $1 million to bring it up to Expedition League standards.

"McKeague is a great park," Wagner said. "It is a great setting. But we need to make some improvements to make sure it would meet the fan experience we expect."

Wagner said with the investment in adjacent Fitzgerald Stadium, he doesn't expect for the city to provide the money for improvements to McKeague Field anytime soon.

There is a meeting next Thursday to discuss renovation plans for Fitzgerald Stadium during an open house being held at the Post 22 American Legion baseball program's indoor hitting facility. Black Hills Sports Inc. will receive $5 million from the city's capital improvement fund and Vision Funds.

"It will probably come from some financing plan or private investment," Wagner said. 

Wagner said with his knowledge of the fan base in Rapid City, he is anxious to find a way to get a team here by the 2021 season.

"It pains me not to have a team in the city where the league offices are," Wagner said. "I think it will have a lot of success. Rapid City is such a great baseball town and a great community."

Along with Spearfish and a newly team added in Sioux Falls, the other league teams include: Casper Horseheads, Fremont Moo, Hastings Sodbusters, Western Nebraska Pioneers, Badlands Big Sticks, Hub City Hotshots, Pierre Trappers, Souris Valley Sabre Dogs and Wheat City Whiskey Jacks.

The league emulates minor league baseball with players using wood bats and playing 64 games in 10 weeks, on average.

The players stay with host families from the local communities. Host families are a very integral part of the Expedition League and these host family relationships provide a lifetime of memories for both the host families and the players.

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