Northwoods League Coming to Bismarck in 2017

The talks started in 2011. The play will begin in 2017. The Northwoods League is coming to Bismarck.

"The rumors are over. The reality is here and this day is finally here. The behind-the-scenes work that goes into something like this is no small process," said Dick Radatz, Northwoods League chairman.

Bismarck Parks & Rec Executive Director Randy Bina said: "Signed a lease agreement for 10 years with two, five-year options to renew. So, it's a long term commitment to have a Northwoods League team in Bismarck and for the communities of Bismarck and Mandan."

Bismarck will be the 19th team in the Northwoods League, which is split between two divisions. It's a wood bat summer season for college players with eligibility, so they are not professionals yet.

"People ask me what is summer collegiate baseball? When you come out and watch these guys play you are really seeing the future stars of tomorrow. These guys are the top division one talent athletes from across the country. Statically half of our league gets drafted each year," said Bismarck General Manager John Bollinger.

"We've discovered through this process what I think a large segment of the population, maybe statewide, maybe even beyond is likely to discover is that this is a great place. There's a community here that fits with the Northwoods League model really well," said Gary Hoover, Northwoods League president.

Bollinger will get set up in Bismarck late this summer and they'll have a "Name the Team Contest." Plus he will start the process of hiring a coaching staff and start promotion for the first season in 2017.

Radatz says the Bismarck franchise is the farthest west in the league, but they're looking at expansion in the Dakotas. The group was checking out Minot Thursday.