College summer baseball league coming to Grand Forks this summer touts fun atmosphere with food and beer options at Kraft Field
The Wheat City Whiskey Jacks will play out of Grand Forks in 2021, with a new franchise starting at Kraft Field in 2022.
For the first time in more than 20 years, Grand Forks' Kraft Field will be home to a college summer baseball league in 2021.
The Wheat City Whiskey Jacks, previously based out of Brandon, Man., will play out of Grand Forks in 2021, due to the U.S.-Canada border closure. The Whiskey Jacks will return to Canada in 2022, but the league will start a new franchise in Grand Forks in 2022.
Steve Wagner, commissioner of the Expedition League, said area fans can expect a fun atmosphere at the ballpark, as well as options for beer and food.
"That's a big part of what we do in all of our ballparks," Wagner said. "When people come to Kraft, they're going to be able to hoist a couple of cold ones. It just goes together. We do all that stuff well.
"We operate all of our food-beverage ourselves. We spent a lot of time and attention on that. We'll have several beer kiosks throughout the park, separate from the concessions, so the lines are quicker."
The Expedition League also partners with FanFood, a phone application to order food from your seat.
Concrete pads have been expanded down both baselines in foul territory at Kraft. The wood deck down the third base side has been removed and four-seat tables have been set up in that area.
The VIP tables will have a wait staff that takes orders and delivers food and drink.
"In all parks, the hospitality experience is a huge deal," Wagner said. "We love it. It's all about taking care of the fans. We're going to have fun and have a blast. Those VIP areas are a really neat addition and enhancement. We're looking at a group area down the right field line, where we'll have a big tent for groups."
The Expedition League is also hopeful to work with the Grand Forks Park District for future Kraft Field enhancements.
"We all have things we'd really like to see happen at Kraft," Wagner said. "There are things at least in the discussion stage."
The Grand Forks franchise will be North Dakota's third for the league, joining the Souris Valley Sabre Dogs in Minot and the Badlands Big Sticks in Dickinson.
"Third and not stopping," Wagner said. "We'll continue to grow and expand."
According to Wagner, the Dickinson and Minot franchises draw about 800 fans per game.
"We're just getting started," Wagner said. "Our vision in those places and Grand Forks is 1,000 per game."
The league anticipates starting the naming of Grand Forks' new franchise late summer or early fall.
"We get the community involved in that," Wagner said.
Games will begin this summer in late May. Fans looking to get tickets early can visit WheatCityWhiskeyJacks.com.
The Expedition League is also looking for host families.
"All of the players, and we have interns and coaches, are housed by local families," Wagner said. "We provide season tickets for host families and provide discounts on merchandise and apparel."
The Expedition League plans to set up an office near Kraft at Eagles Arena. Wagner said anyone hoping to be a host family or just wants to reach out to him, can do so at ExpeditionLeague.com.
The last time a summer college baseball league played in Grand Forks was 1998-2000, when the Grand Forks Channel Cats played in the Northwoods League.