The SODA Blog

The official blog of the Sportsplex Operators & Developers Association

BEACON Ballfields Exclusive Weekly Tips ! ( Nov. ’17 ) !

NOVEMBER 2017        |        BeaconAthletics.com

There’s still time!

Our NOVEMBER SPECIALS offer some outstanding value and are only around through the end of this month…

ProFlex Hose

— SAVE $26-$43! —

IN STOCK: Ships within 24 hours!  Our most durable and longest lasting hose. This premium 1″ ID PVC hose looks and feels like rubber but the PVC material adds great durability. Long shank machined brass fittings for professional performance. Working pressure up to 150 psi. 50′ or 100′.  — Reg. $175-$285  NOW $149-$242 (thru 11/30/2017)

1″ GH Field Hose

— SAVE $19-$30! —

IN STOCK: Ships within 24 hours! Improved design: this hose handles a working pressure up to 150 psi. Constructed with a smooth PVC inner tube.— Reg. $125-$199  NOW $106-$169 (valid for 1″ hose only, 50′ or 100′ 1″ thru 11/30/2017)

Pitching and Batting Mat

— SAVE $15 —

IN STOCK: Ships within 24 hours!  Straight edge 4′ x 6′ mat with 1/2″ nonporous 100% recycled black rubber. Mats are flat on one side with non-skid texture on the other and can be used as either a pitching/batting mat or dugout rubber mat flooring. — Reg. $99  NOW $84 (thru 11/30/2017)

Heavy-Duty CH Anchors

— SAVE $4-$6! —

IN STOCK: Ships within 24 hours!  Ideal for fields with multiple base lengths. Requires no digging or concrete. Saves time & money while installation only takes minutes.— Reg. $26-$36  NOW $22-$30 (valid for heavy-duty anchors only thru 11/30/2017)

Hollywood Kwik-Release Double 1st Base Set

— SAVE $40! —

IN STOCK: Ships within 24 hours!  Will compress and then disengagefrom base upon impact, if necessary.  — Reg. $395  NOW $355 (valid for varsity double 1st base set only thru 11/30/2017)

Hollywood Impact® Double 1st Base

— SAVE $24! —

IN STOCK: Ships within 24 hours!  Patented chevron design allows the base to compress upon impact. Heavy-duty, molded rubber construction. — Reg. $159  NOW $135 (valid for double 1st base only thru 11/30/2017)

Bulldog Field Equipment Pitching Rubber

— SAVE $30! —

IN STOCK: Ships within 24 hours!  This is the best pitching rubber ever. You’ll flip for the Bulldog — literally. With a 3 in core center and 40 lbs of rubber — yes, FORTY POUNDS! — you get maximum durability and performance. When you need to, just flip the rubber to another side and you have even more long-lasting performance. This professional quality rubber is designed to outlast any other brand. — Reg. $259  NOW $229 (valid for adult pitching rubber only thru 11/30/2017)

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It’s Never To Late – Save Your Program Money !
Check Out Our Insurance Program Today !

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Water sports park planned for Lake Nona in Orlando, FL !

Nona Adventure Park will feature a solar-powered water ski and wakeboard cable park, an inflatable aqua park, a climbing tower with a ropes course and climbing walls, the Bahamas-based private investment organization said.

Read: Amazon to build mega warehouse in Orlando

Tavistock Development Company
Wibit

Read: Deputies: At least 2 injured in shooting near Lake Nona

Company officials said the park will also feature a café and a shop where professional equipment can be rented or purchased.

The attraction, which will be built next to the Orlando VA Medical Center, is scheduled to open in the summer and will remain open year-round.

The park will connect to the development’s trails, and discounts will be offered to visitors who don’t use a vehicle to travel to the park, officials said.

Read: Ex-Lake Nona teacher accused of sending inappropriate message to students

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It’s Never To Late – Save Your Program Money !
Check Out Our Insurance Program Today !

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www.sadlersports.com/soda

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SODA Logo “Proudly Serving The USA/Canada Since 1981”

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BEACON Ballfields Exclusive Weekly Tips ! ( Nov. ’17 ) !

Nov. 13, 2017       |       BeaconAthletics.com        |       Ballfields.com

THIS WEEK’S FIELD TIP

Give Me Some Water — I grew up in California, in the San Francisco area. Over the course of the first twenty-five years of my life we experienced a major drought and some other moderate droughts, too. If you have ever lived in an area where water scarcity is a concern, your role as a groundskeeper or sports turf manager becomes heavily scrutinized in a hurry. “Why on earth are you watering dirt?!!!!” Believe me, I heard that loudly a number of times in my teens and early twenties, when I was tending to fields or working as a baseball coach in California. To the novice, the notion of watering around home plate, on the baselines and the infield dirt is about dust control. To the grounds manager on a baseball field, watering dirt is about ensuring that the entire soil profile players hit, pitch, run and field on has sufficient moisture not just on the surface, but through the surface… Read the rest of Larry DiVito’s article about managing moisture on your fields at Ballfields.comGive Me Some Water

Visit Ballfields.com frequently for tips & articles andGroundskeeperU.com for online training.

1″ GH Field Hose (50′ or 100′)  SAVE $19-$30

IN STOCK: Ships within 24 hours!  Improved design, this hose handles a working pressure up to 150 psi. Constructed with a smooth PVC inner tube.  — Reg. $125-$199  NOW $106-$169 (offer valid for the 1″ hose 50′ or 100′ only thru Nov 30)

Hollywood Impact Double 1st Base  SAVE $24

IN STOCK: Ships within 24 hours!  Patented chevron design allows the base to compress upon impact. Heavy-duty, molded rubber construction. Reg. $159  NOW $135 (valid for single double 1st base only thru November 30)

OPEN BOX ITEM OF THE WEEK

OPEN BOX Item — Puddle Pump Combo — SAVE $98!  — This is a great opportunity. This exclusive combo includes: the puddle pump and 25′ hose, as well as the quick hose coupling. Pumps muddy water at a rate of 20 gal per minute. Base disc keeps mud out of the pump. Slightly-used condition.Puddle Pump Combo

Fresh specials. Great Deals for November!

Click for great deals and superior value from the Beacon Store. We’re highlighting selected products from The Ultimate Ballfield Resource. Our motivation is to help you work smarter with innovative products and to help you make your ballfields more playable and safe. We’ve been helping America maintain and improve its fields since 1948. And remember, if you’re not happy, we’re not happy. If something’s not right, we’ll refund your purchase price and pay for the return shipping. We guarantee 100% satisfaction. Whatever you need for your ballfield, think Beacon. 

View this month’s specials

Get the Ultimate Ballfield Resource…

If you need it for your field, you’ll find it here. Request your copy today. Our 2017 catalog is a complete listing of products to keep you rolling with everything you need all season long.

 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

It’s Never To Late – Save Your Program Money !
Check Out Our Insurance Program Today !

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www.sadlersports.com/soda

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SODA Logo “Proudly Serving The USA/Canada Since 1981”

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Ground broke for disc golf course in Gladstone Sports Park in MI. !

Jordan Beck | Daily Press From left, Ben Hewitt of Gladstone’s Parks and Recreation Department, financial supporter of the John and Melissa Besse Sports Park disc golf course Terry Reynolds, Eric McCabe of Dynamic Course Design, Jason Davis of Gladstone’s Parks and Recreation Department, Jen Tucker of the Michigan Economic Development Corporation, Robin Holmes of Noc Bay Flyers Disc Golf Club, Robert VanDamme of the Community Foundation for Delta County, and Jon Harris and Rick Elrod of Noc Bay Flyers take part in a groundbreaking ceremony for a new disc golf course at the Gladstone Sports Park Wednesday afternoon.

Jordan Beck | Daily Press From left, Ben Hewitt of Gladstone’s Parks and Recreation Department, financial supporter of the John and Melissa Besse Sports Park disc golf course Terry Reynolds, Eric McCabe of Dynamic Course Design, Jason Davis of Gladstone’s Parks and Recreation Department, Jen Tucker of the Michigan Economic Development Corporation, Robin Holmes of Noc Bay Flyers Disc Golf Club, Robert VanDamme of the Community Foundation for Delta County, and Jon Harris and Rick Elrod of Noc Bay Flyers take part in a groundbreaking ceremony for a new disc golf course at the Gladstone Sports Park Wednesday afternoon.

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GLADSTONE, MI — People involved with efforts to develop a new disc golf course in Gladstone took part in a groundbreaking ceremony for the course at the Gladstone Sports Park Wednesday afternoon.

According to Jon Harris, co-chair of Noc Bay Flyers Disc Golf Club, the project has been in the works for well over a year.

“We started discussing this in March of 2016,” he said. Noc Bay Flyers is hoping the course will be ready for public use in late May or early June of 2018.

2010 Disc Golf World Champion Eric McCabe of Dynamic Course Design, who created the layout that will be used for the new course, attended Wednesday’s ceremony.

“About a year ago, I flew out here just to look at some land,”he said. At that time, he and members of Noc Bay Flyers determined the Gladstone Sports Park would be an ideal location for a new disc golf course in the area.

Harris agreed with McCabe’s assessment of the location.

“The Sports Park is just made for disc golf,” he said.

Noc Bay Flyers President Robin Holmes said Gladstone’s new course will be among the best courses in the area.

“It’s (going to) be one of the nicest disc golf courses in Michigan and northern Wisconsin,” he said.

The Sports Park disc golf course should be enjoyable for both veteran and amateur disc golfers, McCabe said.

“All skill levels are (going to) be able to come out and have a good time,” he said. The course will feature a 27-hole layout, with two tee pads and two baskets at each hole.

To fund the establishment of the course, Noc Bay Flyers organized a crowdfunding campaign earlier this fall. This campaign, which had a funding goal of $25,000, was run through Michigan-based website “Patronicity.”

About 170 people and groups contributed more than $27,000 to the campaign — including the Community Foundation for Delta County, which presented its donation of $10,000 during the ceremony.

“This is something that we feel really passionate about,”Community Foundation for Delta County Board Member Robert VanDamme said.

Thanks to this support, the project was awarded a matching grant through the Michigan Economic Development Corporation’s “Public Spaces, Community Places” program.

“It was just amazing to see the interest in this whole thing,”Assistant Director of Gladstone’s Parks and Recreation Department Jason Davis said. The city served as a liaison between Noc Bay Flyers and Patronicity.

Davis said he was glad to be able to play a role in bringing the course to the area.

“We’re stoked about having it here in Gladstone,” he said.

Harris gave his thanks to the people who made this project possible.

“This couldn’t have happened without the community (and) the city of Gladstone,” he said.

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It’s Never To Late – Save Your Program Money !
Check Out Our Insurance Program Today !

SODA_AD_17
www.sadlersports.com/soda

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

SODA Logo “Proudly Serving The USA/Canada Since 1981”

www.sportsplexoperators.com

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“Proudly Serving The USA/Canada Since 1981”

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BEACON Ballfields Exclusive Weekly Tips ! ( Nov. ’17 ) !

Nov. 6, 2017       |       BeaconAthletics.com        |       Ballfields.com

THIS WEEK’S FIELD TIP

Pitching Rubbers: It’s hip to be square. In my travels around the U.S. over the years I’ve seen a lot of softball and baseball fields. There is one thing that has always irked me: the astonishing number of fields I’ve seen where the pitching rubber is not square to home plate. Sometimes, it’s not even CLOSE!  I’m talking about fields at all levels, from the MLB all the way down to the youth leagues. Main mounds and bullpens alike are affected here.

While many think having your pitching rubber “close to square” is close enough, please consider this… Read the rest of Paul Zwaska’s article about making sure your pitching rubber is square to home plate on Ballfields.comPitching Rubbers: It’s Hip To Be Square

Visit Ballfields.com frequently for tips & articles andGroundskeeperU.com for online training.

Bulldog Pitching Rubber (adult)  SAVE $30

IN STOCK: Ships within 24 hours!  The best pitching rubber you can buy. 40lb of rubber for maximum durability. When you need to, just flip the rubber to another side and you have even more long-lasting performance.  — Reg. $259  NOW $229 (offer valid for adult model only thru Nov 30)

Varsity Kwik-Release Base Set  SAVE $40

IN STOCK: Ships within 24 hours!  This base set includes one double 1st base and two bases. Will compress and disengage from base upon impact, when necessary.  — Reg. $395  NOW $355 (valid for varsity with double 1st base set only thru November 30)

OPEN BOX ITEM OF THE WEEK

OPEN BOX Item — Green Turf On-Deck Circles — SAVE $44!  — On-deck circles were returned due to wrong color. They are 4′ circles with green turf and sold as a pair. Not suitable for metal spikes. Brand-new condition. On-Deck Circles

Fresh specials. Great Deals for November!

Click for great deals and superior value from the Beacon Store. We’re highlighting selected products from The Ultimate Ballfield Resource. Our motivation is to help you work smarter with innovative products and to help you make your ballfields more playable and safe. We’ve been helping America maintain and improve its fields since 1948. And remember, if you’re not happy, we’re not happy. If something’s not right, we’ll refund your purchase price and pay for the return shipping. We guarantee 100% satisfaction. Whatever you need for your ballfield, think Beacon. 

View this month’s specials

Get the Ultimate Ballfield Resource…

If you need it for your field, you’ll find it here. Request your copy today. Our 2017 catalog is a complete listing of products to keep you rolling with everything you need all season long.

 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

It’s Never To Late – Save Your Program Money !
Check Out Our Insurance Program Today !

SODA_AD_17
www.sadlersports.com/soda

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

SODA Logo “Proudly Serving The USA/Canada Since 1981”

www.sportsplexoperators.com

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“Proudly Serving The USA/Canada Since 1981”

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Lake Forest hosts game night for special needs community !

1026_nws_lnn-l-theguide3-01

Residents of Lake Forest enjoy a patriotic themed Special Needs Dance at Lake Forest City Hall, July 8. The city will host a Special Needs Game Night, 6-8 p.m. Friday at the Lake Forest Sports Park. (Photo by Bill Alkofer,Orange County Register/SCNG)

Orange County, CA. –

The city of Lake Forest is hosting a Special Needs Game Night from 6 to 8 p.m. Friday, Oct. 27 at the Lake Forest Sports Park.

The city holds a number of events for the special needs community, including dances and other recreation activities, throughout the year.

The game night will include board games such as Disney Guess Who, Giant Jenga, Battleship and more. Participants can also make special spooky crafts for Halloween.

Light refreshments will be available and the event is free to attend. To register, call Marilyn Norment at 949-461-3447

IF YOU GO

What: Special Needs Game Night

When: 6-8 p.m., Friday, Oct. 27

Where: Lake Forest Sports Park, 28000 Rancho Pkwy.

Cost:  . . . . Free . . . .

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It’s Never To Late – Save Your Program Money !
Check Out Our Insurance Program Today !

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www.sadlersports.com/soda

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SODA Logo “Proudly Serving The USA/Canada Since 1981”

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Mega sports park to break ground Tuesday in Colorado !

Loveland, CO. – The developers of Rocky Mountain Sports Park, a vast baseball and softball complex in north Windsor, will announce major partnerships during a groundbreaking ceremony at 1 p.m. Tuesday, according to a press release.

The 68-field, 490-acre destination facility at the southwest corner of Harmony Road and Colo. 257 will feature a centerpiece stadium, dorms, indoor practice areas and training facilities for baseball, softball, soccer, lacrosse and football, the release said.

The development also will have hotels, restaurants, shopping and health care.

Rocky Mountain Sports Park, 7775 Weld County Road 74, will have artificial turf on all its fields, according to the website rockymountainsportspark.com. Play is expected to begin in 2019.

The complex will be built by 4 Square Construction and Management in Wyoming.

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It’s Never To Late – Save Your Program Money !
Check Out Our Insurance Program Today !

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SODA Logo “Proudly Serving The USA/Canada Since 1981”

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City of El Paso approves funding plan for east side sports complex !

El Paso, TX –  It’s a first for the city.

An interesting funding plan for the expansion of an east side sports park has been approved by city council.

 The park in far east El Paso at Montwood and John Hayes street is already under construction.

It will have 18 flat fields, bike and hiking trails among other amenities.

People ABC-7 spoke with are excited knowing an 80 acre sports park is being constructed in their area.

Some say they like the funding plan, others don’t like some of the stipulations that come with it.

 “We have some small pocket parks out here but we don’t really have large parks. In fact we don’t have any large parks,” Dr. Michiel Noe said in a 2016 interview with ABC-7.

ABC-7 interviewed him right after breaking ground on the park.

When completed it will have 18 fields that can be used for soccer or football. The park will also have walk and bike trails, a playground and exercise equipment.

“People that I know in this area they mostly play soccer,” Ricardo Rivero said.

Rivero is a UTEP student and avid soccer player.

ABC-7 interviewed him holding his cleats in one hand and soccer ball in the other.

Rivero likes the idea of a sports park in his neighborhood.

“Some parks are crowded. There’s a lot of people and you have to wait until some teams are finished practicing so another team can jump in and practice,” Rivero said.

 

The cost of the park will be around $21 million.

$10 million from the 2012 quality of life bonds will help pay for the park but the city approved two funding methods to pay for the rest.

The city created a public improvement district or PID.

People who will live in the neighborhood that is currently undeveloped and adjacent to the park will pay about $200 a year for 15 years and they will have free access to the park.

The city also created a tax increment reinvestment zone or TIRZ. A portion of the taxes people pay in the designated area will stay in the neighborhood but there’s a catch: People under the TIRZ, and anyone else that wants to use the park, will have to pay an entrance fee.

“I don’t agree with the park being only for games and you have to pay to go in. Other parks are free, they can practice and still play games,” Rivero said.

Construction for phase one of the park has already started. It’s expected to be completed in December.

Phase two should start by February of next year.

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It’s Never To Late – Save Your Program Money !
Check Out Our Insurance Program Today !

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Best New Concessions Experience: Miller Park – Milwaukee, WI !

Miller Park 2017With an overhaul of food and beverage operations at Miller Park in 2017, the Milwaukee Brewers and Delaware North Sportservice went full Sconnie with a slate of new offerings and concourse layouts. For these upgrades, we’re awarding Miller Park the 2017 Ballpark Digest Award for Best New Concessions Experience.

“The food experience at Miller Park tended to be pretty generic in the past, and the concourse concessions layout made for some troublesome bottlenecks,” said Ballpark Digest Publisher Kevin Reichard. “The renovated Miller Park concessions not only added new food and beverage items with a Wisconsin focus, they also dramatically improved the traffic flow throughout the ballpark.”

For 2017, the Brewers and Delaware North Sportservice embarked on a $20-million overhaul of Miller Park food and beverage concessions, upping the local offerings while tearing out existing concession stands and installing new ones—the biggest changes to Miller Park since it opened in 2001. The new Field Level First Base Ward and Third Base Ward spaces were remodeled and the concessions upgraded. In many ways, it was a simplified approach to Miller Park concessions, with many portable stands removed. The large concession stands on the Field Level (the main 360-degree concourse level) that formerly blocked views of the game were replaced by beverage stands with beer (including a wide selection of microbrews), mixed drinks and cocktails. Specialty stands featuring AJ Bombers fresh burgers, Klement’s sausages and brats, cheese curds, hot chips topped with bratwurst, built-to-order street tacos, frozen custard, Smoke Shack BBQ and more are now located to the side of the concourses, allowing for a better traffic flow on the Field Level. Other changes, including the installation of new dedicated stands, were also made throughout the ballpark.

Miller Park 2017

“We took a lot of guest feedback and listened to what the fans wanted,” says Executive Chef Seth VanderLaan. “In the end, those fans told us they wanted more local foods and restaurant-quality food.”

That meant more partnerships with local vendors: AJ Bombers fresh burgers, all-new/all-natural sausages prepared for Miller Park by Klements, Zaffiro’s pizza, freshly prepared frozen custard, a wider selection of Wisco microbrews (including regional favorites from Green Bay, Madison, Milwaukee and Chippewa Falls at a Loge Level stand) and, of course, the quintessential local cocktail: a Korbel Brandy Old Fashioned, served sweet, of course. Yes, you can still get your basic hot dog, Secret Stadium Sauce and Miller High Life at the ballpark, but now you purchase an all-natural Klements sausage and a Badger Club Amber or a Riverwest Stein.

That meant more prep work onsite. For instance, the partnership with Smoke Shack and parent Hospitality Democracy led to in-house smoking and the use of all-natural, antibiotic-free pork and beef. In all, concessions staff smoked 1,000 pounds of pork and beef for game days. Similarly, with all the burgers prepared fresh, even more prep work was added for 2017.

Miller Park 2017

This award represents a change for how we’ve covered food in the annual Ballpark Digest awards. In the past, we’ve recognized individual food items, and we’ll continue to recognize individual dishes as a separate category. But with food such an important part of the professional baseball experience these days, it makes sense to recognize overall programs. In the case of Miller Park and executive chef VanderLaan, the food program includes the fan-facing spaces as well as player meals, prepared in consultation with the team nutritionist (“our goal is better performance for players, so we fuel their bodies—and, obviously, the meals need to taste good,” VanderLaan says). For the Brewers front office and Delaware North Sportservice, the goal to elevate the total fan experience.

“We are honored to receive this award for our new food and beverage experience at Miller Park,” said Brewers COO Rick Schlesinger. “We view the Miller Park experience as much more than a baseball game, and fan satisfaction is our top priority. With Delaware North and many other partners’ support, this project was a very high priority for stakeholders. It proved to be the largest private financial investment since Miller Park opened, and we couldn’t be happier with the results.”

“It’s quite an honor to share this award with the Milwaukee Brewers,” said Carlos Bernal, president of Delaware North Sportservice. “We are fortunate to be partners with a team that prioritizes their fan experience. Chef Seth, our general manager Ken Gaber and their crew collaborated with the Brewers to bring a progressive, culinary concession vision to life at Miller Park.”

According to VanderLaan, Brewers fans can expect more changes for 2018. The Brewers and Delaware North Sportservice hit the four major Wisconsin food groups in 2017—beer, cheese curds, sausage and frozen custard—but there are potentially a few more unique offerings on tap. “We have some things in the works with local ties,” he said.

“Yeah, we’re suckers for an AJ Bombers burger or a well-prepared Old Fashioned,” Reichard added. “But the changes at Miller Park transcended the introduction of a new food item or two, as every team does that in the offseason. They elevated the fan experience in several ways, and that effort merits recognition.”

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It’s Never To Late – Save Your Program Money !
Check Out Our Insurance Program Today !

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www.sadlersports.com/soda

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SODA Logo “Proudly Serving The USA/Canada Since 1981”

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If You Build It… Up-to-Date Sports Facilities Aim to Bring Back Crowds !

Recreation Management Magazine

By Dave Ramont

PHOTO COURTESY OF HOK

On the last night of August in 2013, Bishop Sankey of the Washington Huskies scored a touchdown on a one-yard run, eight minutes into the first quarter. They were the first points scored in the University of Washington’s (UW) new Husky Stadium in Seattle, which was celebrating its opening night after a $280 million renovation. The Huskies would go on to rout high-ranked Boise State by 32 points that night. And the sold-out crowd of nearly 72,000 loved it—not just the decisive victory over an arch-rival, but the new stadium itself.

Attracting a Crowd

Institutions of all sizes have been experiencing a drop in live-game attendance in recent years, particularly among students. And yet, they’re spending money in record amounts to renovate or build new competition and training facilities, willing to gamble that upgrading and enhancing the user experience will translate to more fans in the stands. And in many cases, it has. Some studies and surveys have suggested that these days, college fans desire a more sophisticated game day experience, whether that means simply upgrading restrooms and concession areas to adding more comfortable seats to installing better technology like Wi-Fi and cutting-edge video boards and sound systems.

Robert Fatovic, an architect with CannonDesign, explained that technology considerations are a big trend in sports facility design, and venues need to be equipped to handle the wireless connections. “When you go to a game, everybody has their smartphone out, and it’s a big drain on the systems. A lot of schools are upgrading technologies.”

Indeed, many fans are streaming videos, chatting with friends or even live-tweeting the game. There are even mobile apps to track the shortest lines at the restrooms or concession stands, or order food from your seat. “More or less now the smartphones are used for being social, for being connected while you’re at an event. And the ability to wander around and meet your friends in the club area or wherever—there tends to be a lot more freedom,” Fatovic said.

Of course, all of this wireless service requires a large amount of bandwidth. Retrofitting and installing IT pathways to existing structures can prove to be an expensive proposition. Therefore, from a design standpoint, it’s wise for new facilities to anticipate future innovations and include ample conduit channels. Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, Calif., provides Wi-Fi at up to 30 times faster than most other facilities, which was achieved by using more than 30 feet of fiber optic cable for each of the stadium’s 68,500 seats, adding up to more than 400 miles.

It is getting harder for many schools to get students out to sporting events, which Fatovic said is a bit of a new wrinkle. And while larger, Division One schools are always going to go bigger and better, some smaller schools are re-thinking their strategy. “The trend really is not to build more seats,” he said. “It’s better to have a smaller house that’s filled and more rambunctious, than a large, empty house that feels dead.”

Practice Makes Perfect

Another evolution in recent years is the building of separate, standalone training and practice facilities, with many of them becoming more sport-specific, especially for football, basketball and Olympic sports.

Some studies and surveys have suggested that these days, college fans desire a more sophisticated game day experience, whether that means simply upgrading restrooms and concession areas to adding more comfortable seats to installing better technology.

Trevor Bechtold, project designer, and Nate Appleman, director of Sports, Recreation, and Entertainment for HOK, explained how in the past, you might see many different programs training in the same facility simultaneously, all with heavy demands on training and recovery, using the facility 24/7. But you can’t have, say, 120 guys from the football program in there at once and still support your other 10 or 15 Olympic sports sufficiently. “So that’s where some of your bigger sports started to pull out and have those standalone facilities to support them,” they said. “And that gave a little more relief to the rest of the sports to be able to utilize the existing facilities on campus that were once shared.”

Fatovic agreed, saying there are a lot more practice-type facilities being developed so teams can practice without having to rely on an event schedule. “So their day-to-day operations aren’t affected by their venue, whether it’s a student program or a concert. Or if it’s an ice hockey facility that needs to put a floor down, pick it up for a hockey match, and put it back down. It’s hard to practice in those kinds of venues, so they really need their own dedicated practice facility.”

In South Carolina, Clemson University’s football program has been very successful lately—winning the National Championship last season. And now they’ve unveiled their new training facility, the Football Operations Complex. The HOK project features many amenities, including a barbershop, mini-golf course, movie theater, bowling alley and gaming lounge. There are basketball, volleyball and bocce ball courts, a laundry room, meeting rooms, a recruiting war room, and a dining facility. For training advantages, there’s a plunge pool, weight room, steam room, recovery rooms, a nutrition center and Gatorade fuel bar.

PHOTO COURTESY OF CANON DESIGN

Bechtold and Appleman said there’s a big focus lately on creating a healthier student-athlete all round, and the facility has things you didn’t see in the past, like the nap room. “The focus is creating that rested athlete to where they can have a better baseline to start at and there’s not as much recovery. There’s more ‘pre-covery’ you might say, getting proper sleep, diet and nutrition.” And it’s not just training and recovery, but everything from motion capture to biomechanical and neuromuscular assessments.

Fatovic agreed, saying that monitoring the body’s performance is a big trend, through the use of impact breathing resistance, heart-rate monitors, and other high-technology methods.

A Stadium With a View

Many feel that UW’s Husky Stadium sits in the most beautiful setting in college football. Built in 1920 on the shores of Lake Washington, it features stunning views of the Cascade and Olympic Mountains. Fans can even arrive by boat—up to 140 boats can dock less than 100 yards from the stadium. But the stadium was suffering from age, with cracked concrete and exposed rebar.

HOK worked on the renovation project, with Bechtold and Appleman explaining that, “The narrative for Husky Stadium was that you had an aging building that was an iconic building, and we needed to preserve that iconic nature of it while also ushering it into the modern era.”

They also needed to figure out a way to infuse much-needed premium seating. “So it was as much a revenue project as it was a deferred maintenance project in a lot of respects.”

The first step was removing the worn-out track that surrounded the field. “Fans are definitely closer to the action,” said Daniel Erickson, assistant athletic director of events and facilities at the university. “Fans in the front row are now 29 feet closer to the field. Fifty-six thousand of our 71,000 seats are new, and 65,000 have a back-support feature. The floor treads in non-premium areas are 32 inches, giving excellent leg room.”

Premium seating includes six suites and 60 club seats on the field level, and 30 suites, 2,500 club seats and 30 loge boxes on a dedicated club level. Bechtold and Appleman related how premium offerings used to be pretty simplistic; you had club seats and suites, and the rest of the seating was mostly the same. Or you paid a little more to be on the 50-yard line or at mid-court.

But now, for example, somebody who couldn’t necessarily afford a suite could kick in to be part of a loge box. “Now there’s an emphasis on the donor base, and understanding the types of products that really reach the majority of that donor base from top to bottom; distributing a premium experience almost entirely across the patronage to some degree.”

Erickson confirmed this, adding, “Our premium seating offerings have been extremely popular, selling out well in advance of the 2013 stadium re-opening and generating a substantial waiting list, particularly for Club Husky.”

PHOTO COURTESY OF HOK

The building’s iconic metal roofs were preserved, as were the upper-deck bleachers—though they were rejuvenated with new paint and new speakers. Lobby space and restrooms have been upgraded, and Husky Stadium now boasts 447 bathrooms, including suites. High-resolution video boards have been installed, and there are more than 700 flat-screen televisions in the stadium, including 42-inch TVs in the concourses and 55-inch TVs in the luxury suites. “We’ve invested in Wi-Fi enhancements,” Erickson said, “and continue to explore ways to increase the technological innovations within and around the stadium.”

Erickson also said that concessions and souvenir sales are steady revenue-generators, and they’ve certainly evolved through the years. Fatovic explained that people are looking for more of a restaurant vibe, wanting to see their food being prepared, with the grills up front. “They don’t want it pre-packaged, and they want more choices. Menu boards are mostly electronic, so they can easily change menus or pricing for an event. People want the game on a TV by the concession stand, and when you go into hospitality areas, they want coffee stations and different specialty foods. Food service is becoming a big deal in venues.” Fatovic added that jerseys and other souvenirs are also becoming higher quality.

Bechtold and Appleman said that a lot more thought is given to what the local brands are, since that’s tied in to the whole game day experience of visiting that particular university or city. “Concourses aren’t concourses in the same vein anymore. It’s got a lot of different feels and a much more upscale approach, so it’s heightening the fan game-day experience beyond what it used to be. You can still get your hotdog and popcorn, but you have a lot of other varieties to choose from in a modern facility.”

More Flexibility

Another thing facilities strive for is flexibility—creating multiple uses for their venue. Features like retractable seating and portable floors can help achieve this goal. The University of Maryland, Baltimore County (UMBC) Retriever Event Center is a CannonDesign project, slated to open early next year. The 172,000-square-foot facility will host UMBC NCAA games for men’s and women’s basketball, and women’s volleyball. It will also provide space for events such as concerts, banquets, speakers’ series and commencement. There are 5,000 seats in the bowl and around 1,000 on the floor, with spectator amenities including concessions, catering and hospitality. “UMBC Arena is more than an arena; it’s the athletic department, sports medicine, academic services, strength and conditioning. The multipurpose nature of the venue is important for student life,” Fatovic said.

Event days are important to many facilities now, according to Bechtold and Appleman—how many and what type of events a facility can accommodate—since these event days equal revenue. “So that’s something that is often asked of us now: How can we build in flexibility and utilize the space in multiple manners?”

They point to their Notre Dame Campus Crossroads project as an example, which featured enhancements to Notre Dame Stadium, including adding video and ribbon boards; replacing wooden benches with vinyl-clad bench seats; improving the Wi-Fi network and existing sound system; and renovating restrooms, concessions, lighting and signage. “The student ballroom is also the club space for the premium seating, so that space has a life outside the seven home football games.”

Back in Seattle, Erickson said Husky Stadium and its premium areas are available to rent. “We host numerous private events such as auctions, luncheons and galas. We also annually host UW commencement, Beat the Bridge (an annual road race), a four-game high school football jamboree, and a company picnic for a local tech company, to name a few. The new stadium has given us tremendous resources, and we’re committed to making them available to the public.”

Additionally, part of the renovation included a new Football Operations Center with locker rooms, meeting rooms, training rooms, and coaching and administrative offices. Plus, a retail component and the University of Washington Sports Medicine Center are open to the public, promoting year-round activity within the stadium.

Staying Safe & Other Challenges

And what about safety and security concerns—are these areas getting more attention lately? Bechtold and Appleman said absolutely—that it’s critical to understand Homeland Security recommendations for these bigger assembly spaces.

“So being mindful of how you treat these buildings in terms of secure perimeter, service and vehicular access, etc. And then from a design standpoint, the physical things that you build in that help to create the areas for screening in a timely fashion. So how do you provide safety while still providing a pleasing game day experience?”

PHOTO COURTESY OF HOK

They explained how training facilities are even exercising tighter security measures these days, mentioning the Clemson facility as an example—especially now that the Championship trophy sits in the lobby.

“Even that building has high security to the extent that they’ve got biometric screening where you’ve got to have your thumbprint to get in the door at all times, or you have to be accompanied by someone who’s in that database.”

Fatovic pointed out that the extensive placement of security cameras and facial recognition technology can be a tool later for any charges or prosecution, while Erickson said that daily security at Husky Stadium is much improved. “As part of the renovation, card readers were added to specific points of entry and within the Football Operations Center.”

Sustainability issues are also a major priority, with many colleges committed to incorporating sustainable mechanical systems, materials and practices within their institutions. “It’s really always a baseline anymore; it’s something where the clients really want to hit that certain level of sustainability, whether it be LEED Silver, Gold or Platinum. It’s more about responsible design for us,” Bechtold and Appleman said, pointing out that there are huge challenges associated with accommodating 60,000 to 100,000 people. “So, how do you provide those environments that are going to sustain that type of event not only on game day but outside of that, become something that can return and give back to the community in some capacity?”

The LEED Silver-certified Husky Stadium also received Salmon Safe Certification through the Pacific Rivers Council, recognizing UW for its transformative land management practices, including pollution capture, storm water capture, reducing construction pollution, and maintaining a green infrastructure buffer. The upgraded stadium boasts a 40 percent reduction in water consumption, and the new design links the stadium with the new Sound Transit light-rail station—a popular transit service for Husky fans.

Storage is another big component in venues now, according to Bechtold and Appleman. They explained that student-athletes now have way more gear than in the past, especially with sponsorships, often using multiple pairs of shoes, gloves, uniforms and helmets. “The high-density rolling storage has really been huge, so they’re not just having rooms with shelves packed in them.”

Fatovic added that teams are also travelling with a lot more gear these days—for instance, the sports-medicine guy might travel with several crates—and that all needs to be stored somewhere.

Another constant challenge is parking and traffic flow, entering and exiting an event. “Those are all things that people are paying close attention to in the site planning and site design of these facilities—making that first experience and that last one as good as they can be. That’s been one of the biggest challenges in our industry over the last several years is getting people to that event. If someone has a bad experience, they likely aren’t going to travel out and continue to take that on,” Bechtold and Appleman said.

Moving forward, Fatovic believes facilities should cater to an older demographic as alumni age, pointing out that they don’t want to climb a lot of stairs, with some using walkers or scooters. Seats are becoming wider and more comfortable, and wheelchair areas are common. But they also need to consider the younger population, who demand the newest technologies and innovations, since they will hopefully be the future season-ticket holders.

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