WILLMAR - The Northwoods League announced Wednesday that the league will expand to Willmar for the 2010 season.
A group led by experienced Northwoods League team executives Ryan Voz and Marc Jerzak has purchased the NWL expansion franchise and the team will play its home games at Bill Taunton Stadium.
Bill Taunton Stadium has twice hosted Northwoods League regular-season games, in 2006 and 2007. Both of those games drew more than 1,000 fans, including 1,425 on July 25, 2006, when Alexandria beat Mankato 3-2. At that time, Voz was general manager of the Alexandria Beetles.
"Willmar is a very similar market to Alexandria and we decided to play a home game in Willmar during the 2006 season," Voz said in a news release. "It was to our surprise what a great ballpark the community of Willmar had created and I have always thought Willmar could be a possibility for a Northwoods League franchise.
"After further review, the city of Willmar had a vision when the ballpark was rebuilt and we are excited to bring Northwoods League baseball to this fine market."
Voz has spent the last three years with the St. Cloud River Bats alongside fellow vice president Marc Jerzak. In 2009 their responsibilities increased when the St. Cloud management team also operated the first-year Brainerd Lakes Area Lunkers. In addition to Brainerd in '09, Voz and Jerzak helped launch Alexandria in 2001 when Voz was the GM and Jerzak was an intern.
"Every day I'm more and more impressed with the people and the business leaders in the City of Willmar and the surrounding areas," Jerzak said in a news release. "After being a part of several Northwoods Leagues markets, the pride and passion of the people toward baseball and their community is off the charts."
Voz, 34, and Jerzak, 30, have a combined 20 years of experience in the Northwoods League. Both have been named the Northwoods League Executive of the Year. Voz earned the award in 2003, Jerzak earned it in 2007.
Voz and Jerzak are joined in this venture with owner/business partner Gary Posch.
"Willmar could not be getting two finer baseball executives to own and run their franchise," Northwoods League president Dick Radatz, Jr. said. "With their experience in the Northwoods League we should expect good things immediately and I look forward to visiting Willmar for years to come."
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