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Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Slew of change for the Rockford RiverHawks

FROM PRESS RELEASE - LOVES PARK, Ill. – The 2011 season will arrive with a slew of change for the Rockford RiverHawks.

Rockford's only professional baseball team announced on Monday that it is now also the Stateline's newest team and will play in the RiverHawks' original league. Dr. Chris Hanners, a longtime minor-league owner, heads the group that has acquired the lease to Road Ranger Stadium and will operate a Frontier League franchise, also named the RiverHawks.

Because of the Frontier League schedule, Opening Night for the team's 10th season has been moved up to May 20. The RiverHawks host Traverse City at 7:05 p.m.

"We're excited to be back home in the Frontier League," RiverHawks general manager Brad Sholes said. "You'll see a lot of improvements at the ballpark this year, with a new rededication to customer service and a stronger emphasis on our affordable family fun, and you will see that reflected in our upcoming promotional calendar."

The RiverHawks have been in the Stateline since 2002 and have played at Road Ranger Stadium since 2006. The franchise originated as a Frontier League franchise in Portsmouth, Ohio in 1993 and moved to Springfield in 1995. The team played in the Northern League in the 2010 season.

While in the Frontier League, the RiverHawks won the pennant in 2004 – the first of four consecutive playoff appearances – Jason Shelley was named Baseball America magazine's 2003 Independent Leagues Player of the Year, Rich Austin was the 2004 FL Player of the Year, the team hosted the 2009 All-Star Game and Austin, Joe Anthonsen and Jason James each won batting titles.

"After 20 years of active ownership in professional sports and 30 years of developing projects in the Rockford area, I will be moving away from the (RiverHawks) to free up more time for development projects, helping to bring more jobs to Rockford," former RiverHawks managing member Kurt Carlson said. "I've also retired from the U.S. Army Reserve after 29 years of service and plan to spend more time with my family and friends."

The Frontier League is focused on developing young talent for affiliated leagues. Nearly two dozen former Frontier League players have reached the major leagues.

Hanners is one of the Frontier League's founders and served as both its president and chairman of the board of directors. Hanners owned the Chillicothe Paints of the Frontier League from 1993 to 2008. The Chillicothe Paints are currently members of the Prospect League, a summer league for college players.

The RiverHawks will play their 10th season this summer. Advertising and ticket information is available by calling (815) 885-2255. Fans can also visit

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