ELKHART — The Elkhart County Miracle and the stadium where the baseball team plans to play will not be ready for 2014.
But the project is not dead, according to the founder and president of the independent professional team, Craig Wallin.
"I know people are disappointed that we won't have baseball in 2014," Wallin told The Elkhart Truth Thursday, April 3. "No one is more disappointed than me."
But a process that Wallin began six years ago to bring a new stadium and baseball team to Elkhart is still alive.
"We're still moving forward, surely slower than we would like," Wallin said. "This is the sixth year in the process. It just didn't happen now for a number of reasons.
"We'll just shoot for 2015 and I'm pretty confident about that."
The Miracle stadium site is in the former American Countryside Farmer's Market on the southwest side of Elkhart on C.R. 26. No construction at that site has yet begun.
Wallin said that his architect and general contractor have let him know that they are on schedule to begin construction of the ballpark this summer.
In the summer of 2013, the Miracle was announced as first team in the new Northern League of Professional Baseball, which had planned to have teams in the Midwest, East Coast and lower Ontario.
Northern League commissioner Dan Evans was in Elkhart to help make the announcement.
After a few months, it was announced that a Northern League franchise would be placed near the Field of Dreams in Dyersville, Iowa, but no other teams were added to the circuit.
Wallin said that both the Elkhart and Dyersville projects are at the same basic stage of development.
With the addition of Northern League teams stalled in the Midwest and the release of funds from private venture capital not yet accessible, the Miracle project has had to wait.
Northern League rules had called for a minimum stadium capacity and the proposed stadium had about 1,600 fixed seats plus terrace and patio seating.
"We were still holding out hope (for playing in 2014)," Wallin said. "We were still believing. But the overall progress of the league didn't allow for that.
"We didn't want to go off half-baked."
Wallin said the private venture capital funds will go toward closing and building of the stadium. He is purchasing the property now occupied by HIMCO.
"It is a bit of a fluid project, but we trust we'll be able to move rather quickly once the weather breaks."
Wallin, the founder and president of CTT Communications, had hoped to build a stadium on C.R. 17 near the U.S. 20 By-Pass in 2010 and bring a summer collegiate team to Elkhart in 2011.
But that deal did not materialize.
Nor was a plan approved to build a stadium for the independent professional Miracle at C.R. 17 and C.R. 10.
Time will tell if independent baseball will come to town.