Ballpark Commons: A New Sports Community that is Decidedly Uncommon

By Martin J. Greenberg

New professional sports stadiums are being built and completed around the country, Los Angeles, Las Vegas, Atlanta, and Milwaukee. And more are on their way. In recent years, however, there has been a shift in the paradigm of stadium-building. Traditionally, professional sports stadiums were built purely for the product on the field or court. Fans arrive at the stadium, purchase food, beverages, and merchandise while attending the game, and go their own way afterwards. While patron experience at the games themselves is still a key to a stadium’s success, owners and developers have begun to set their sights on the surrounding area of the stadium. Instead of merely constructing a stadium, owners want to build a community with the stadium as the centerpiece. This means shops, restaurants, bars, offices, apartments, and condominiums being developed around the stadium in order to create a sports community, hereafter referred to as a “Sports.Comm.” Sports.Comms provide fans with a living environment outside of the stadium itself, and serve as a hub of activity with its own distinct atmosphere.

Sports.Comms are becoming more commonplace as entertainment blocks in big cities become more popular. Twelve miles southwest of downtown Milwaukee, however, in Franklin, Wisconsin, a new type of Sports.Comm is taking shape. Where previous Sports.Comms have centered around major league stadiums in big cities, Franklin is breaking the mold. By focusing on minor league and recreational sports & entertainment in a small suburb, Ballpark Commons is committed to creating its own community – a never-before seen Sports.Comm.

I. What is a Sports.Comm?

There is a recent trend in the modern development of new professional sports venues which broadens the focus of developers from strictly a venue standpoint to one which incorporates the stadium’s surrounding area. A Sports.Comm focuses on increasing foot traffic to sports stadiums by surrounding the stadium with experiences that appeal to people who may not necessarily attend events at the stadium. They also bolster the experience of fans that do attend stadium events by providing pre- and post-game entertainment. Typically, the stadium will act as the main attraction, or anchor tenant, of an expansive complex that offers different experiences in the form of bars, restaurants, retail space, hotels, and residential buildings. Sports.Comm’s provide great economic and community benefits. The Battery Atlanta and Deer District in Milwaukee are grand examples of Sports.comms.

A. The Battery Atlanta

The real estate surrounding the new SunTrust Park is a prime example for the modern Sports.Comm and serves as a model for new venue developments across the country. The Battery Atlanta is a mixed-use development that includes hotels, residential living, restaurants, retail stores, and attractions.[1] The collaborative development plan and execution of constructing The Battery Atlanta has turned the heads of those developing sports venues for professional teams.[2] The Atlanta Braves and SunTrust Park are the anchor tenants for the Battery. The Battery supplements the stadium and team during the season, as well as attracting patrons and residents year-round.

The Battery’s year-round functionality and the experiences it offers is already paying dividends. With over a dozen stores, multiple bars and restaurants, work and retail spaces, and a slew of entertainment options throughout, the Battery and SunTrust Park drive an average net fiscal impact of $18.9 million annually for Cobb County.[3] The Battery Atlanta has coupled entertainment, night life, and a getaway for tourists and residents while retaining sports at its center, and has established itself as a template of success for new sports venues.[4]

B. Deer District

Wisconsin has adopted the Battery Atlanta model for its own Sports.Comm, in the form of Fiserv Forum, and the surrounding area known as Deer District. The Fiserv Forum, a 714,000 square foot arena, serves as anchor tenant of the Deer District and hosts the Milwaukee Bucks and Marquette University Men’s Basketball, as well as music concerts and related events.[5] Deer District, a 30-acre entertainment block, hosts Good City Brewing, The Mecca Sports Bar and Grill, Drink Wisconsinbly, as well as a viewing forum, beer garden, and 3,500 square feet of retail space.[6]

The Fiserv Forum and Deer District were funded primarily through the City of Milwaukee. Milwaukee pledged $47 million of the $250 million in public funds used in the construction of the half-billion dollar Fiserv Forum, the amount being repaid through the creation of two Tax Incremental Districts, No. 84 and No. 22.[7] The City would spend $35 million to develop a parking garage that the City would own and split revenues with the Bucks, with $12 million allotted for use of developing a public plaza east of the arena.[8]

The Battery and Deer District are prime examples of what it means to develop a Sports.Comm. Both have a professional sports stadium as the anchor tenant, with additional attractions neighboring the stadium to provide a full experience for fans and the community. What most Sport.Comms have in common is that they are built within large cities and enjoy the influx of foot traffic that a major league sports team affords. What a Wisconsin entrepreneur is developing in Franklin, Wisconsin, however, is something unique.


II. Mike Zimmerman

The visionary behind the Ballpark Commons in Franklin comes in the form of Mike Zimmerman. Zimmerman began in healthcare, where he started seven successful companies before making a foray into the sports world.[9] Zimmerman is the owner of the Milwaukee Wave, the longest running professional indoor soccer franchise, which competes in the Major Arena Soccer League.[10] He also founded, in 2014, and currently co-owns, the Kokomo Jackrabbits, a summer collegiate team in Indiana that competes in the Northwoods League.[11] In 2012, Zimmerman founded the Rock Sports Complex in Franklin, Wisconsin, which is becoming a larger enterprise with the new Ballpark Commons project.[12] One of Zimmerman’s recent enterprises, ROC Ventures (previously known as MKE Sports and Entertainment) was founded in 2014 and operates as a “fund and management company” which oversees brands in the sports entertainment, and real estate sectors, including the ownership of the Milwaukee Wave, the Jackrabbits, and the Rock Sports Complex.[13] Zimmerman is the CEO of ROC Ventures, where ROC stands for “Return on Community,” the organization’s primary objective.[14] He also co-founded both the Prospect Training Academy, a Midwestern athletic development program for youth and elite high-school athletes, as well as Korked Baseball, a baseball apparel company.[15] Both were created through his company ROC Ventures.[16] Furthermore, Zimmerman owns Zim-Mar Properties, LLC, the primary developer for the Ballpark Commons project, tying him to the Commons not only through oversight but in the actual, physical development of the land.[17]

Ballpark Commons doesn’t center around an already-successful professional major league team but, rather, the community itself. The only professional baseball team to play their home games at the Commons are the Milwaukee Milkmen, who were founded by Zimmerman in 2018 as a part of the American Association of Independent Professional Baseball (“American Association”) before their stadium at Ballpark Commons had even finished construction.[18]

Zimmerman’s endeavors in healthcare were fruitful, and capital has become less important in pursuing the Ballpark Commons project. Zimmerman acknowledges owning a sports team is a “financial loser” but believes that owning multiple teams can create a shared services type of economy, and community success can be coupled with financial gain in this regard.[19] In 2016, Zimmerman, along with Blair Williams of WiRED properties and Greg Marso of Marso Construction, drafted and filed a plan with the Franklin Common Council for a Sports.Comm venue and venture.[20]

III. The Franklin Plan

A. Original Plan

The Franklin Ballpark Commons Plan as filed with the Franklin Common Council consisted of two elements, and the required legislation was passed for both: (1) the financing and budgeting for the project, and (2) the development and construction for the Commons.[21] The project began in January of 2016, when the Franklin Common Council held a concept review for the proposed development upon application by Zim-Mar Properties, LLC, and the Rock Sports Complex, LLC.[22] On February 1, 2016, the liaisons representing Zim-Mar Properties, LLC, Marso Construction, and the Milwaukee County Department of Parks submitted an application to amend Planned Development District No. 37 (The Rock Sports Complex), and a Comprehensive Master Plan amendment application, in support of the proposed Ballpark Commons project.[23] The application was approved the day after.[24] For the next two years, the Common Council filed a series of authorizations regarding Tax Incremental District (TID) services related to development, independent market analysis regarding the project, and related ordinances.[25]

The amended Planned Development District No. 37 (PDD) and Comprehensive Master Plan (CMP) contained blueprints for what Zimmerman and the developers sought to accomplish with the Ballpark Commons. Their plan consisted of “multiple market-driven phases:” (1) an outdoor baseball stadium with approximately 2,500 hard seats and a capacity to accommodate a total of 4,000 spectators, which would serve as home to a minor league professional baseball team and the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee Division I baseball team, (2) a year round family entertainment and recreation center that will feature a regional family fun center and a premier entertainment, recreation, and event venue and one hotel accommodating up to 125 rooms; (3) multiple restaurants; (4) an office and a purpose-built co-working facility, retail space, and mixed-use buildings with the possibility of up to 70 luxury apartments; and (5) a luxury apartment community, including two-story buildings adjacent to the existing residential neighborhoods which will include up to 303 total apartment homes, a clubhouse, common area, and both programmed and landscaped open space.[26] The plan also consisted of market analysis research and general development plan data for the surrounding real estate.[27] Their proposal was approved on April 4, 2016.[28]

B. Financing and Budget

The Ballpark Commons follows a similar model of financing as most major sports venue developments and a large portion is being funded through government subsidies. Using taxpayer dollars to build wealthy franchise owners new stadiums has been somewhat of a hot economics issue facing a number of cities looking to build stadiums. Franklin is no exception. These proposals center around the use of Tax Incremental Financing (TIF). TIF is a financing option that allows a municipality to fund infrastructure and other improvements through property tax revenue of newly developed property. Put simply, a municipality uses property taxes gained over the life of a Tax Incremental District (TID), to fund the development. When the project is complete and the TID expires, the municipality can start to take advantage of the new, higher property value to increase their tax revenue.[29] Ballpark Commons is being funded partially through TIF and a newly created TID around the Rock Sports Complex.[30]

TIF in Wisconsin requires evidence that the property in question, in this case Ballpark Commons, is “blighted.”[31] For property to be labeled as blighted, the municipality must show that, but for the TIF, development on the property would not happen.[32]

Recently in Wisconsin, TIF was used to fund the construction of Fiserv Forum and Deer District, and the Ballpark Commons has followed suit. The Commons had a planned development cost of $130 million.[33] To finance the project, the City of Franklin issued General Obligation Bonds and Municipal Revenue Obligation (MRO)-1 and MRO-2 Bonds to BPC Master Developer, LCC.[34] To fund this contribution, the Franklin Common Council moved to approve the TID No. 5 Development Agreement between the City of Franklin and developer: a 200 acre, $130,000,000 development at the Rock Sports Complex in February 2016.[35] On August 18, 2016, a public hearing was held to consider the Project Plan for the Creation of Tax Incremental District, No. 5, a district including the Ballpark Commons development proposal.[36] The Common Council approved the plan on September 6, 2016, and established the boundaries for and creation of the TID, a district including the Ballpark Commons development proposal.[37] Over the next two years, the Common Council hired independent contractors to conduct an Independent Market Analysis Review and discussions were ongoing for approving a TID.[38] On February 6, 2018, TID No. 5 was formally approved between the City of Franklin and BPC Master Development, LLC.[39]

The TID Development agreement was entered into on February 19, 2018 between BPC Master Developer, LLC and the City of Franklin.[40] Pursuant to the Development Agreement and Continuing Guaranty, the City agreed to issue GO Bonds equaling $22,521,484 to help finance the Commons. [41] This was contingent on BPC Master Developer, LLC creating $20 million of the new assessed value as a result of the construct of the project on or before January 1, 2019, $50 million of new assessed value on or before January 1, 2020, and $94 million of new assessed value as of January 1, 2021.[42] These assessed values must be maintained until the GO Bonds have been paid in full.[43] The agreement breaks down spending specifications for every facet of the project, as well as how the acreage shall be properly cultivated.

In May 2019, the Common Council approved an additional $5.2 million in City financing beyond $22.5 million the City had already approved, as the Project needed further funding.[44] This stemmed from an increase in infrastructure cost due to “a substantial increase in the scope of the [P]roject” since the initial City financing plan was approved in 2016.[45] In addition to the $5.2 million increase, the City of Franklin will pay $19.4 million to help finance high-end apartments at the Ballpark Commons mixed-use development under a plan approved by the Council.[46] Known as Velo Village, the apartments will cost $57.2 million to construct, and will be developed by Mandel Group, Inc.[47] These costs are all in addition to the initial $27 million the city has already approved for the development.[48]

While the City of Franklin is certainly shelling out a sizeable amount to assist in developing the Ballpark Commons, the City is trusting in the increased consumer spending the development will bring to replenish their tax investment. With increased consumer spending also comes job creation, which will greatly benefit the local economy.

IV. Ballpark Commons

A. The Rock Sports Complex

Founded in 2012 as a joint initiative between Zimmerman, Milwaukee County Parks, and the City of Franklin, the Rock Sports Complex occupies the grounds adjacent to the new Ballpark Commons developments to the North and East, offering many options to fans now attending events at the Commons.[49] Located at 7900 Crystal Ridge Rd, Franklin, WI, the Rock lies at the northern edge of Franklin, a mere 20-minute drive from downtown Milwaukee.[50]

The Complex contains a snow park, an umbrella bar, and MLB replica baseball fields.[51] The ski hill and snow park help attract community members in the winter months and help keep activity at the venue humming when baseball is out of season.[52] The Umbrella Bar offers a patio where ages 21 and up can go for an alcohol beverage.[53] Numerous food trucks can be found lining the entrance to the patio, and the bar frequently offers live music and DJs.[54] It also affords a 360-degree elevated view of much of the Rock Sports Complex, namely the MLB replica baseball diamonds:

The Rock Sports Complex is uniquely defined by its major league specification baseball fields. Our fields are designed by the very best experts and built using the very best product, used by the vast majority of the major league stadiums – from the drainage and irrigation to the sod, root zone mix, and infield dirt. No detail was overlooked. We hold ourselves accountable to keeping these fields looking and playing at the highest level.  We model each of our fields after a major league diamond, from Fenway’s green monster to AT&T’s short left porch. Explore our replica fields today.[55]

In addition to the Red Sox’s Fenway Park and the Giants’ AT&T (now called Oracle Park), there are fields replicating Busch Stadium (St. Louis Cardinals), Miller Park (Milwaukee Brewers), PNC Park (Pittsburgh Pirates), and Citizens Bank Park (Philadelphia Phillies).[56] The fields also feature batting cages and functional bullpens for athletes.[57]

Furthermore, the Rock houses a BMX track and bike park, providing the Commons and surrounding apartments with an incentive to ride, bolstered by a paved bike path around the area.[58] Along with the biking amenities, the complex has seasonal attractions such as a haunted house and thrill rides, and a wedding and concert venue.[59]

B. Franklin Field

Franklin Field, formerly known as Routine Field, broke ground in 2018, and celebrated its inaugural season in 2019, finishing construction in June of that year.[60] The 4,000-seat stadium, located at 7035 S. Ballpark Dr. Franklin, WI, is home to both the Milwaukee Milkmen and University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee’s Division I baseball program.[61]

Premium seats are available in the MOSH seating bowl, sponsored by the Midwest Orthopedic Society Specialty Hospital, giving fans sightlines directly behind Homeplate and each dugout.[62] Families and spectators who prefer to lounge out in the grass are invited to the Waterstone Bank Pastures, a lawn seating section located beyond the left field wall and along the right field foul line.[63] A premier gameday experience can be experienced at Leinenkugel’s Hop Yard, where fans have access to all you can eat and drink from a selection of food and beverages.[64] The Hop Yard offers picnic-style seating along the left field foul line.[65] Also available are semi-private seats in the Luxe Golf Bays, named for sponsor Luxe Golf, complete with six tickets to a cabana and private waitstaff.[66]

i. Milwaukee Milkmen

The Milwaukee Milkmen were founded in 2019 as a member of the American Association of Independent Professional Baseball (“American Association”).[67] The team was forced to play the first month of their home games at Kokomo Municipal Stadium in Indiana due to delays in the building of the stadium at Ballpark Commons.[68] They were able to play their first game in Franklin in June of 2019.[69]

Founded in 2005, the American Association started after five teams came from the newly disbanded Central Baseball League to join four other teams that left the Northern League.[70] The American Association added an expansion team to make a 10-member league and played their first season in 2006 with 96 games.[71] As of 2020, the American Association has 12 teams, though only six, including the Milwaukee Milkmen, are playing a season in 2020 due to coronavirus concerns.[72] The American Association is made up primarily of ex-major and ex-minor league players, with some college recruits.[73] Each team is allotted a salary cap of $125,000 and must pay rookies a minimum of $1,200 a month.[74] Notable MLB players to have played in the American Association are Max Scherzer of the Nationals and James Paxton of the Yankees.[75]

The Milwaukee Milkmen had somewhat of an underwhelming first season, going 38-62 in 2019 and missing the playoffs.[76] The Milwaukee Milkmen then dismissed manager Gary McClure, promoting Anthony Barone to lead the Milwaukee Milkmen into 2020.[77] While largely closed in early 2020 due to the pandemic, the Milwaukee Milkmen began intra-league play at Franklin Field in July 2020 with the other five teams in the American Association that have agreed to hold their seasons.[78]

The Milwaukee Milkmen defeated Sioux Falls, 4-1, in September of 2020 to clinch the American Association championship series in just their second year as a franchise.[79] “The independent-league team transformed its roster in the offseason and proceeded to complete a worst-to-first rise.”[80]

ii. Naming Rights Lawsuit

While Routine Baseball LLC, a Franklin-based baseball apparel company, initially signed a letter of intent to purchase the naming rights to the new stadium, the company later filed suit in federal court claiming that the contract hadn’t been fully negotiated or signed by either party.[81] A number of factors caused Routine to back out of the deal, as Zimmerman allegedly hired different merchandise vendors, which Routine claimed was in contradiction to the letter of intent.[82] Meanwhile, Zimmerman had already gone ahead with the installation of multiple signs of Routine’s logos, for which Routine then claimed trademark infringement.[83]

Zimmerman claimed that Routine was in breach for failure to pay for the signs, and that the lawsuit was a “PR stunt.”[84] The lawsuit was later settled and dismissed in December 2019, with the naming rights being awarded to the Franklin Tourism Commission for $150,000 annually in June 2020.[85] Asked about the deal, Zimmerman stated that it was a great fit as “we’re in the tourism business, and they’re in the tourism business.”[86] By awarding the naming rights to the local tourism commission, the hope is to continue to grow the brand of the City of Franklin. The Ballpark Commons has also agreed, as a part of the naming rights contract, to help promote the city through an initiative known as Engage Franklin.[87] Engage Franklin will be incorporated into the existing $750,000 in advertisements that ROC Ventures does in the Commons annually.[88]

C Ballpark Commons Vendors and Tenants

1) The Milky Way Drive-In Theater: A new drive-in movie theater opened and showed its first films in May 2020, complete with concessions and restrooms.[89] The drive-in is able to accommodate up to 150 vehicles.[90] Two films are shown daily whenever the Milkmen play their away games out of town, with the first geared towards young families and the later show focusing on teens and young adults[91]. The Milky Way offers a fantastic outlet and a sense of community, especially in a time of social distancing in the midst of a pandemic.[92]

2) MOSH Performance Center: The anchor tenant for the Ballpark Commons is the Midwest Orthopedic Specialty Hospital (MOSH) Performance and Wellness Village at Ballpark Commons:

The Midwest Orthopedic Specialty Hospital (MOSH) Performance Center is curated to integrate synergistic performance, fitness, and wellness solutions in one convenient location. MOSH, which provides comprehensive sports medicine and orthopedic services, along with a fitness facility, will be the key occupant of the 45,000 SF building. Tenants SCW Soccer Club and Prospect Training Academy, along with two professional teams, will anchor 77,000 SF of integrated sports training turf. The MOSH Performance Center will blur the lines between these collective products and experiences, creating a one-stop shop for all things wellness.[93]

The Milwaukee Wave, a soccer team owned by Zimmerman, will be one of the teams to inhabit the MOSH center, and will be joined by EXOS Physical Therapy and Sports Medicine as tenants.[94] Furthermore, the facility offers supportive medical and training service such as orthopedics, physical therapy, personal training, training for athletes and military, and corporate wellness programs.[95] There are yoga studios, cycling and assorted fitness classes, a medi-spa and athlete housing.[96] The MOSH Performance Center is being developed by The Boldt Company, which specializes in healthcare real estate development.[97]

3) Luxe Golf Building: Luxe Golf Bays are heated open-air bays overlooking 215 yards of artificial turf, which will offer golf enthusiasts opportunities to hit the new-age driving range year round.[98] The building is designed as a three level entertainment center, and will feature three other food and beverage brands in addition to an all-season beer garden called Hinterhof.[99] There will be 57 golf bays, complete with a retractable roof and removable panels to ensure comfort in all seasons.[100] While ground has yet to broken as of August of 2020, the new Luxe Bays building is slated for completion by summer of 2021.[101]

4) Retail and Office Building: Just off Rawson Ave as you enter the Ballpark Commons grounds stands a building containing offices for ROC Ventures LLC, the driving force behind the completion of the Commons. While the ROC Venture offices occupy the upper floors, Wheel & Sprocket makes use of the bottom floor with sidewalk access. Wheel & Sprocket is a bicycle company that offers bikes, scooters and biking equipment for retail, as well as bike repair services; a perfect tandem to the bike trail that winds in and around the Ballpark Commons.[102] Marso Construction and Bullpen Coworking, which offers for-rent office spaces, are also tenants in the building.[103]

Blend Coffee and Cocktails has joined the storefronts at Ballpark Commons.

‘The ultimate goal of a place like Blend is to facilitate community by curating a food and beverage menu with the process of placemaking. Becoming the local coffee shop and cocktail lounge will bring people together and create meaningful collisions,’ Zimmerman said. ‘That is our goal in the future when we get past the pandemic. In the meantime, we’ll be perfecting a wonderful mix of coffee, tea, cocktails, and food that will be easily accessible.’[104]


5) Multi-Family Apartments: Dubbed Velo Village by the developer and owner, Mandel Group, multi-family apartments will be available on the south end of Ballpark Commons along the Oak Leaf Trail.[105] This will be a walkable and bikeable community offering unparalleled access to “a host of integrated sports, entertainment, fitness, recreation, and retail amenities.”[106] The Village will have 265 market-rate apartments and amenities, including a 4,000 square foot club room, fitness facility, swimming pool, outdoor lounge area, and a dog park.[107] The project, designed by JLA Architects, is under construction as of August of 2020 under the direction of general contractor Catalyst Construction, and is due to open to residents early 2021.[108]

6) Senior Housing: A new senior living facility recently opened in Ballpark Commons. New Perspective Senior Living, located at 7220 Ballpark Drive South, offers “tenants a fitness center, dining room, café, pub, salon/spa, movie theater, dance hall, and more.”[109] The facility provides 149 units, 103 senior units and 36 memory care units.[110] Interest in the new apartments has been immense so far, and many units have already been filled by new tenants.[111] The facility was completed by Stevens Construction Corp.[112]

7) Combined Hotel:  A 98-room dual branded Sleep Inn and MainStay Suites hotel is planned as a four-story, 55,100-square-foot building to be located on a 3.6-acre site at 6868 S. Ballpark Drive, along South 76th Street, just north of Loomis Road.[113] “The hotel will have 47 conventional hotel rooms branded as Sleep Inn and 51 MainStay Suites rooms for extended stay. It will also have 111 surface parking spaces and a 600-square-foot concrete patio between the hotel building and South Ballpark Drive.”[114]

The Commons offers a wide range of opportunities, both sports-based and community-based. Its year-round viability will be fundamental to its success as a Sports.Comm, as illustrated by the Battery Atlanta and Deer District models.

D. Future of Franklin

The Ballpark Commons is still in development, but its early successes indicate a tremendous rise within the surrounding community. The next phase of the Ballpark Commons includes the completion of the Luxe Bays facility and MOSH Performance Center, the former to be completed by summer 2021. Ground has broken on Velo Village, and units will become available in November 2020.[115] A separate brewpub and hotel have also been rumored, although there is no word yet on when they will be completed.[116]

The Ballpark Commons is not a standard Sports.Comm. It is the first of its kind. All other Sports.Comms enjoy the attraction of major league professional sports stadiums. This project has no such safety net. With minor league teams and Division-I baseball as the marquee sports attractions, the Commons instead relies on fostering the community itself. Atlanta’s population is nearly 500,000, Milwaukee’s nearly 600,000, while Franklin sits under 40,000.[117] Even without the multitudes of people a major city affords, this minor league model uncommonly focuses on a different aspect of the Sports.Comm: social interaction and sustainability of the community.

V. Conclusion

Ballpark Commons has had an uphill battle, both in securing funding and tenants, but Zimmerman and the Commons are on the cusp of an extraordinary achievement: a minor league Sports.Comm where the community comes first. Franklin’s involvement has taken over two years of government planning and approval, including community comments and voting before ground was broken on this expansive project. The City has invested much, and they have expressed that community should be a priority. Zimmerman has echoed this sentiment in both his words and actions throughout the realization of his vision.

With such a unique venture taking place, this enterprise will herald the viability of community-based, minor league Sports.Comms, whether for good or for ill. However, with the completion of the project on the horizon and enthusiasm mounting, Ballpark Commons already has the makings of a bustling and vibrant Sports.Comm.


Thank you to Ian Hackett, Charles Twohy, Casey Campos for their help with respect to the research and drafting of this article.

Thank you to Kylan Reilly for his assistance in editing and finalizing this article.

Thank you to my legal assistant, Danelle Welzig, for her editing and writing skills.

[1] Marnie Hunter, Life Beyond Baseball at The Battery Atlanta, Food and Drink, CNN, Sept. 21, 2018,

[2] Supra note 1. “It now seems to be the model for sports facilities moving forward,” said Beth Marshall, vice president of corporate communication for the Braves. “We have had over 100 sports teams come through looking at our project.” Id.

[3] Fiscal Impact: Suntrust Park & The Battery Atlanta, Cobb Chamber,

[4] See also

[5] See

[6] See

[7] See City of Milwaukee – Tax Incremental Districts Annual Status Report, Department of City Development, Dec. 31, 2020,

[8] Crocker Stephanson, Another city committee backs Bucks arena financing, Journal Sentinel, Sept. 16, 2015,

[9] Jim Owczarski, Milwaukee Talks: Wave owner Mike Zimmerman, OnMilwaukee, Jan. 22, 2015,

[10] Mike Zimmerman. Experience (LinkedIn Profile). (Retrieved August 10, 2020),

[11] Id.

[12] Ryan, Sean, Who Is this guy? Zimmerman’s business passion rock solid, Milwaukee Business Journal, May 30, 2014.

[13] Jim Owczarski, Milwaukee Talks: Wave owner Mike Zimmerman, OnMilwaukee, Jan. 22, 2015,

[14] See

[15] See

[16] Mike Zimmerman, Experience (LinkedIn Profile). (Retrieved Aug. 10, 2020),


[18] See

[19] Jim Owczarski, Milwaukee Talks: Wave owner Mike Zimmerman, OnMilwaukee, Jan. 22, 2015,

[20] Historical Documents Thru 2018, City of Franklin,

[21] Id.

[22] Id.

[23] Id.

[24] Id.

[25] Id.

[26] Amended Planned Unit Development – General Development Plan, Ballpark Commons (Mar 7, 2016),

[27] Id.

[28] Id.

[29] Tax Incremental Financing Manual, Wisconsin Department of Revenue (2020),

[30] Ryan, Sean, Franklin spending plan for Baseball Commons clear first hurdle, Milwaukee Business Journal, Aug. 19, 2016,

[31] Tax Incremental Financing Manual, Wisconsin Department of Revenue (2020),

[32] Tax Incremental Financing Manual, Wisconsin Department of Revenue (2020),


[33] Hess, Corrinne, Ballpark Commons at The Rock continues to roll forward in Franklin, BizTimes, May 14, 2018,

[34] Tax Incremental Financing Manual, Wisconsin Department of Revenue (2020),

[35] Id.

[36] See

[37] Id.


[39] Id.

[40] Tax Incremental District No. 5 Development Agreement Between the City of Franklin and BCP Master Developer, LLC,

[41] Continuing Guaranty (Unlimited),

[42] Id.

[43] Id.

[44] Tom Daykin, Franklin will pay $19.4 million to help finance high-end apartments at its Ballpark Commons development, Journal Sentinel, Nov. 10, 2019,

[45] Tom Daykin, Franklin’s Ballpark Commons wants extra $5 million city cash after developer hits unexpected costs, Journal Sentinel, Nov. 25, 2019,

[46] Tom Daykin, Franklin will pay $19.4 million to help finance high-end apartments at its Ballpark Commons development, Journal Sentinel, Nov. 10, 2019,

[47] Tom Daykin, Franklin’s Ballpark Commons wants extra $5 million city cash after developer hits unexpected costs, Journal Sentinel, Nov. 25, 2019,

[48] Sean Ryan, Franklin approves financing for Ballpark Commons apartments, Milwaukee Business Journal May 24, 2019,

[49] Fox 6 Now Milwaukee, “The Rock” to open for skiing soon, baseball in the spring, Dec. 6, 2012,

[50] Id.

[51] The Rock Sports Complex, ROC Ventures,

[52] Id.

[53] Umbrella Bar, ROC Ventures,

[54] Id.

[55] Replica Baseball Fields, ROC Ventures,

[56] Id.

[57] Id.

[58] See

[59] Id.

[60] Franklin Field, Milwaukee Milkmen,

[61] Id.

[62] Id.

[63] Id.

[64] Id.

[65] Id.

[66] Id.

[67] See

[68] Ballpark Digest, Apr. 12, 2019,

[69] Madison Goldbeck, Milwaukee Milkmen reschedule home opener, BizTimes, Apr. 13, 2019,

[70] See

[71] Id.

[72] Id.

[73] See

[74] Breaking down American Association baseball, Dakota News Now (June 10, 2018),

[75] Id.

[76] Quinnies, John, Milwaukee Milkmen Will Make Bid for Championship Wednesday, Patch, Sept. 7 2021,

[77] Alison Graettinger, Milwaukee Milkmen Making Coaching Changes After Inaugural Season, Milwaukee Milkmen (September 9, 2019),

[78] Hiller, Marla, Baseball’s Back: Milwaukee Milkmen Season Begins July 3, Milwaukee Magazine, Jun. 15, 2020,

[79] Curt Hogg, Champs! The Milwaukee Milkmen defeat Sioux Falls to win the American Association championship, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Sept. 17, 2020,

[80] Id.

[81] Tom Daykin, Routine Baseball sues over use of name at Franklin ballpark, says naming rights contract remains unsigned, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Sept. 6, 2019,

[82] Id.

[83] Id.

[84] Id.

[85] Sean Ryan, Ballpark Commons stadium renamed under new tourism agreement, golf suites coming 2021, Milwaukee Business Journal, Jun. 18, 2020,

[86] Id.

[87] Thomas, Arthur, Milwaukee Milkmen stadium has new name after last deal went sour, BizTimes, Jun. 19, 2020,

[88] Sean Ryan, Ballpark Commons stadium renamed under new tourism agreement, golf suites coming 2021, Milwaukee Business Journal (June 18, 2020),

[89] Milky Way Drive-In at Ballpark Commons in Franklin opens May 22, CBS 58 NewsRoom, May 15, 2020,

[90] Id.

[91] Id.

[92] Id.

[93] MOSH Performance Center, ROC Ventures,

[94] Id.; See also

[95] See

[96] Id.

[97] Id.

[98] See

[99] Id.

[100] Id.

[101] Golf Entertainment, ROC Ventures,; See also

[102] See

[103] Retail and Office Building, ROC Ventures,

[104] Collett, Rebecca, A New Coffee and Cocktails Experience Comes to Ballpark Commons, The Patch, Dec. 2, 2020,

[105] See

[106] Multi-Family Apartments, ROC Ventures,

[107] Velo Village at Ballpark Commons, JLA Architects,

[108] Sean Ryan & Kenny Yoo, Mandel Group starts construction on Velo Village apartments at Ballpark Commons, Milwaukee Business Journal, Nov. 26, 2019,

[109] Erik Hanley, A new senior living facility recently opened as part of the Ballpark Commons development in Franklin, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Jun. 26, 2020,

[110] Id.

[111] Id.

[112] See

[113] Weiland, Andrew, Hotel planned for Ballpark Commons Development in Franklin, BizTimes, Sept. 21, 2021,

[114] Id.

[115] Velo Village, Mandel Group,

[116] See

[117] See