Rivermen Head South

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A small river barge leaves Hudson, WI, taking the St. Croix Rivermen’s
supplies and equipment to their new home in La Crosse, WI 

(Virtual Reality News Network)La Crosse, WI-- In a scene reminiscent of the Baltimore Colts move to Indianapolis in the 1980’s, Harlan McLain ordered the St. Croix Rivermen’s equipment and supplies to be moved to their new home in La Crosse, WI last week..  

St. Croix fans were in a general state of shock upon hearing the news. The Rivermen had improved their record in 2001 by 17 games over 2000. They narrowly missed making the playoffs as a wildcard. “That team meant a lot to the community,” said one disgruntled fan. “Not only were they getting better, they provided a lot of jobs and economic growth. Hudson will be devasted by this.” 

McLain, who was named president and general manager by Brassball League co-directors Mark Lentz and Corey Weisser last week, was sympathetic but unapologetic. “St. Croix had very strong fan support and I feel bad for the fans there,” McLain said. “But, I’m a La Crosse native and that’s were the team is going to play. Also, La Crosse gave our organization a pretty sweet heart stadium deal.” 

He refused to go into specifics of the deal, but sources at La Crosse City Hall say the deal involves large lump sum payments to the club which will be financed by a municipal bond offering of 10 percent yield tax-free bonds. The bonds will be partially repaid by a doubling of the cost of hot lunch programs at La Crosse area schools and by a nominal $25 per week, “head tax” for each child who attends a La Crosse area daycare. 

La Crosse Mayor John Medinger was excited about the deal. “Having a Brassball team in La Crosse is invaluable as far as what it provides in terms of jobs and economic growth in the area. The school district of La Crosse totally agrees with me and that’s why they’re raising the cost of their hot lunch programs to help finance this team. Many of those kids could end up working for the club as concessionaires or parking lot attendants someday. You can’t put a dollar value on opportunities like that.” 

McLain has remained silent about stadium specifics so far as well as about whether the team will keep its old nickname “Rivermen” or come up with a new name. “Right now I’m thinking about opening up the naming rights to the team to an open bidding process to local businesses and organizations, but we have some issues to work out with the Brassball front office and our public relations department.” 

Lastly, McLain wanted to thank the St. Croix fans and the Rivermen’s previous owner Mike Thomas who ran the club from 1998 through 2001. “Mr. Thomas obviously knew what he was doing. He took a club that finished 48 games out of first in his first year and turned it into a club that finished only 6 games back last season. He put the foundation in place for a successful future. Now its up to me and my employees to continue the momentum generated by Mr. Thomas and the St. Croix players and fans. I feel badly for St. Croix, but hey, La Crosse is only a 2 hour and 30 minute drive if they want to come down to catch a game. La Crosse is a friendly city. We would welcome them with open arms.”