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  • Writer's pictureMarc Viquez

The Bison are Back in the Independence League

Photo Created by Marc Viquez, Stadium Journey

A familiar baseball team will return to the Independence Baseball League this season. The former Gem City Bison will return as the Bison Baseball Club after a one-year hiatus. The Oahe Zap will operate the new version and serve as a travel team, playing 19 games and not competing for the playoffs.

It is a welcome surprise for the Bison, who appeared to have made a splash when debuting in the IBL in 2022 in Laramie, Wyoming. The ballclub operated out of the University of Wyoming Cowboy Field, changed ownership groups after the season before announcing that they would take a break last February.

Bison and Zap GM Lizzy Kocer said that the return of the Bison name had been in the works for quite some time and that the club will be operating via all social media accounts and have an official website.

“The Bison has a name that stands out. Their marketing and logo design is high-end and top-of-the-line. Many people love the name and branding of the Bison ball club and we don’t want to make any changes but promote the team at our ballpark.”

The league will begin the season on May 23, while the Bison won’t start until July 4. Their season will consist of only 19 games, and won't be eligible for the playoffs. The formation of the Bison will secure more home dates for the Zap and the other clubs in the loop.

Fans should expect to see Bison gear sold at the stadium, a concession shop online, and two sets of uniforms for the team this season. The objective is to expose the Bison in the community from social media posts to the Pierre 4th of July parade.  The two clubs will play each other five times this season.

Kocer added that the plan is to find the Bison a permanent ballpark and city for the 2025 season; there will be an emphasis on eastern South Dakota. Zap ownership will operate the club and is looking for an ownership group that fits its business model.

“We will be happy for them to have a city of their own one day and hope to copy and mirror the organizational feel we have in Pierre. The future owners will have to have the same amount of care and make sure their town has the same amount of love for summer collegiate baseball.”

Stadium Journey visited a Bison game when it was based in Gem City (Laramie) in 2022 and gave it a 2.71 FANFARE Score. The score was a result of a few factors: concession prices, neighborhood, pricing, and atmosphere.  

“The combination of a ballpark that has no modern amenities and a team competing in a new, amateur wood bat league would not produce a good atmosphere. However, credit the Bison front office and a small but enthusiastic fan base for creating a fun game day experience.”

This year, the Bison won’t have to worry about the stadium experience as they will be one of three travel teams that include the Nebraska Prospects and another former IBL club, Plainsmen Baseball (formerly the North Platte Plainsmen). Besides the Zap, the 8-team loop will see the Hastings Sodbusters, Spearfish Sasquatch, Fremont Moo, and Casper Spuds return from last season. 

The return of the Bison is a great story in the world of summer collegiate baseball. We all know what happens when a team takes a hiatus, most don’t come back. The team’s season will be short and sweet in 2024, but if things work out as planned the club will be in the right place for the 2025 season.


Follow all of Marc’s stadium journeys on Twitter @ballparkhunter, Instagram, and his YouTube channel.  Email at 

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