Will the Bombers Leave Battle Creek after 15 Years?
The Battle Creek Bombers finish their 2021 season on Saturday, as they host the Traverse City Pit Spitters. Could it be the last Bombers game in Battle Creek? That depends on whether the team and the owners of C.O. Brown Stadium, the City of Battle Creek, can hammer out a new lease. The 5-year lease signed in 2016 is up.
Battle Creek Assistant City Manager Ted Dearing said, “We are talking with the Bombers about the potential for a new lease. Right now, we are exploring terms and conditions that will work for both parties.”
Brian Colopy, Managing Partner of the Kalamazoo Growlers and Battle Creek Bombers confirmed that there has been some communication with the city. “Yes, we are in discussions with the city on a new lease. COVID-19 really created some unknowns for everyone across the country, including us. We are hopeful to have some updates on our future shortly after the season.”
The 2020 home season was lost to the Bombers, as COVID-19 restrictions wiped out every game scheduled in Battle Creek. The team played their home games in Kalamazoo, and the number of fans were very limited.
This year, the Bombers were able to play at C.O. Brown Stadium, but they were dealt a blow when city officials decided in March that they couldn’t hold fireworks nights any longer, due to environmental concerns. Perchlorates, used as a propellent in fireworks, have been found in the groundwater in other communities. The Battle Creek River runs just east of the stadium, but the bigger concern is that the Verona Wellfield, which supplies the city’s water, is at the ballpark site and to the east.
At the time, Colopy said, ““We absolutely understand the importance of safety for our fans and the community that we serve. We have proven to host safe fireworks displays for 14 years. Over those 14 years, the Bombers have had zero incidents regarding their fireworks shows including; no injuries, fires, water contamination or soil contamination.”
Fireworks shows are easily the highest attended games for the team and the most requested by season ticket holders, group outings and partial plan holders. Another Northwoods League team, the Madison Mallards, started using low- or no-perchlorate fireworks.
The Bombers 15th season in Battle Creek has been a tough one on the field too, as 20 of 29 players had to be replaced by late July for various reasons. They won’t make the post season, but the team has remained competitive and they’ve given some area athletes a chance to play.
Dearing said they city has a plan B if things can’t be worked out with the Bombers. “If we do not come to a lease agreement, the city would continue to use the facility for tournaments and other play. There is typically good demand for C.O. Brown and we would continue to maintain and utilize the stadium.”