The debut of a professional baseball team in Elkhart County will have to wait.
It was hoped that the Elkhart County Miracle would play 48 home games this year, but two major league problems arose.
First, construction hasn’t even started on the stadium where the team was supposed to play.
Second, even if the ballpark was ready, the Northern League of Professional Baseball is not.
“The Northern League informed us yesterday that they weren’t able to put together what they thought was enough teams and interest to have a league in the Midwest this year,” said Miracle Owner Craig Wallin.
While the Northern League has a proud past dating back to 1902, the truth is, it has no present.
The schedule on the league’s website is blank, the 2014 season has been cancelled in large part because only two teams had signed up to play—the one from Elkhart County and one from Dyersville, Iowa.
“I have confidence they'll (the Northern League) be fielding at least six teams in 2015,” said Wallin.
Wallin plans to use his down-time to take care of business in his own backyard.
“We're in good shape here and looking forward to starting construction this summer,” he said. “My commitment is to Elkhart County, I’m not going anywhere, I’ve been here since 1978, I want this project for our county.”
Wallin is perhaps as optimistic about his plans to build a baseball stadium on the grounds of the old Farmer’s Market as he is realistic about the chances that a Northern League team will play there.
“And so once that's up and going, you know the Northern League will be ready for us, you know, worst case scenario if they're not, at least we have a beautiful facility,” said Wallin. “We have so many people looking to use the facility right now, locally, so there would be no problem filling the venue with 50 to 75 events.”
Wallin envisions that the park would start out hosting summer travel league games, as well as high school and college games. There has also been talk of making the stadium the home of the Elkhart Christian Academy football team.