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The official blog of the Sportsplex Operators & Developers Association

Feeling Baseball’s Payne: Class Action Suit alleges Failure to Protect Spectators . . . From Bats and Balls !

By Carla Varriale 


Gail Payne, individually and on be- half of others similarly situated, has led a class action lawsuit against the Of ce of the Commissioner of Baseball, d/b/a Major League Baseball (MLB) and Robert D. Manfred Jr. in
the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California. The proposed class action asserts four causes of ac- tion: (1) negligence; (2) fraudulent con- cealment; (3) violations of California’s Unfair Competition Law (Cal. Bus. And Prof. Code Section 17200 et seq.); and (4) violations of California’s Consumer Legal Remedies Act (CLRA), California Civil Code Section 1750 et seq. 

The plaintiff seeks injunctive relief requiring defendants, among other things, to adopt certain corrective measures. The measures include ret- ro tting all existing major league and minor league indoor and outdoor parks with protective netting that spans from foul pole to foul pole by the beginning of the 2016–2017 MLB season and to implement a program to study injuries and the rate of injuries among spectators, including the type and manner of injury and at what locations they occur. The plaintiff opines that the study is necessary to evaluate whether further measures should be taken and so precautionary measures can con- tinue to evolve as the sport continues to evolve. 

Payne (who concedes that neither she nor her family were ever struck by an errant baseball or bat although she has been attending baseball games since 1968) argued that MLB did not exercise due care despite having allegedly superior knowledge about the risks of injury presented to spectators and fraudulently concealed those risks. The Payne action acknowledges that there is a lack of hard statistics about in- juries — but nonetheless avers that baseball, along with soc- cer and auto racing, is among the most dangerous spectator sports. 

Furthermore, the Payne action is riddled with hyperbole: referring to foul balls that “scream” into the stands, “cart- wheeling” bats, “a modern-day slaughter pen” and disclaim- ers regarding the risk of injury on the back of tickets that are provided in “mouse print.” The plaintiff relies heavily on an argument that spectators are “distracted” by entertainment at ballparks that are designed to increase revenue and to “woo” the next generation of baseball fans. Speci cally, the plaintiff alleges that Commissioner Manfred has acknowledged the shorter attention span of young spectators and a desire to enhance the fan experience in the ballpark via technology. Payne cites the implementation of WiFi at stadiums (arguably a tool of fan engagement versus a distraction) and an effort by MLB to increase the pace of play and contends that these efforts somehow increase the ordinary risks presented to spectators. 

The Payne action is silent regarding the quali ed, or limited, duty of care that applies to the owners and operators of a baseball stadium. The “baseball rule” is a specialized duty of care that is applicable to baseball (and not the other sports referenced in the Payne action: soccer and auto racing). The baseball rule re ects the practical realities of the sport of baseball and the ubiquitous presence of balls and bats that nd their way into the stands (a risk acknowledged by plain- tiff in the Payne action). In this respect, baseball differs mate- rially from other sports and many spectators want to see the action up close or bring a glove to the game in order to catch a souvenir baseball. 

California is a state that follows the baseball rule. See Nemarnik v. Los Angeles Kings Hockey Club, 103 Cal. App. 4th 631, 641 (Cal. App. 2d Dist. 2002), quoting Neinstein v. Los Angeles Dodgers, 185 Cal. App. 3d 176, 180-81 (1986) (“As we see it, to permit plaintiff to recover under the circum- stances here would force baseball stadium owners to do one of two things: place all spectator areas behind a protective screen thereby reducing the quality of everyone’s view, and since players are often able to reach into the spectator area to catch foul balls, changing the very nature of the game itself; or continue the status quo and increase the price of tickets to cover the cost of compensating injured persons with the attendant result that persons of meager means might be ‘priced out’ of enjoying the great American pastime. To us, neither alternative is acceptable. In our opinion, it is not the role of the courts to effect a wholesale remodeling of a revered American institution through application of the tort law.”). See also Rudnick v. Golden W. Broadcasters, 156 Cal. App. 3d 793, 802 (Cal. App. 4th Dist. 1984) (“A baseball club complying with Quinn’s screening standard has ful lled its limited duty to spectators as a matter of law and is entitled to summary judgment. Whether baseball fans are viewed as participants in the game itself or merely passive spectators, one thing is certain: the chance to apprehend a misdirected baseball is as much a part of the game as the seventh inning stretch or peanuts and Cracker Jack.”) (em- phasis added). 

New York has applied the baseball rule for decades. In New York, the duty upon owners and operators is limited to pro- viding a protected area behind home plate where the danger of being struck is the greatest. The leading case delineating this duty of care is Akins v. Glens Falls City Sch. Dist., 53 N.Y.2d 325, 441 N.Y.S.2d 644 (1981), in which the Court of Appeals acknowledged the practical realities of the sport of baseball and the fact that many spectators do not want to watch a game from behind a protective netting. In fact, many spectators attend a baseball game with a baseball glove in order to catch a baseball. The Akins decision struck a practi- cal balance between the potential for liability upon the own- ers and operators of baseball stadiums and the spectators’ desire to view the game “up close.” The Court of Appeals crafted the limited duty rule in order to balance these inter- ests and also held: 

As was aptly summarized by Chief Judge Cardozo, the spectator at a sporting event, no less than the participant, “accepts the dangers that inhere in it so far as they are obvious and necessary, just as a fencer accepts the risk of a thrust by his antagonist or a spectator at a ball game the chance of contact with a ball . . . . The timorous may stay at home.” (Murphy v. Steeplechase Amusement Co., 250 N.Y. 479, 482-483, 166 N.E. 173, 174). Akins, 53 N.Y.2d at 329 (holding that a proprietor of a ballpark ful lled its duty of care and cannot be held liable in negligence when it provid- ed screening in the area of the eld behind home plate). 

The Court of Appeals reiterated the limited duty of care in a case involving spectator “distraction.” In Davidoff v. Met- ropolitan Baseball Club, Inc., 61 N.Y.2d 996, 475 N.Y.S2d 367, 368 (1984), a negligence action brought by a 14-year-old spectator who was injured by a sharply hit foul ball while she occupied a box seat located behind rst base at Shea Stadium, the plaintiff’s action was dismissed because the defendants satised their limited duty of care. The Court of Appeals held that Akins mandated that a jury question may be presented “where the adequacy of the screening in terms of protecting the area behind home plate properly is put in issue. (Akins v. Glens Falls City School Dist., 53 N.Y.2d 325, 331, supra.).” (emphasis added). 


Furthermore, in Davidoff, the Court of Appeals held: 

The rule suggested by plaintiff would require a baseball eld proprietor to operate as an in- surer of spectators unless there was a protective screen shielding every seat. We held in Akins that a proprietor should be allowed to satisfy the de- sires of the many spectators who prefer to view the game from a seat unobstructed by fences or protective screening. No sound reason has been shown why the rule of policy set forth in Akins should be changed. 475 N.Y.S.2d at 368.

This reasoning has been applied in other jurisdictions and un- derscores the obvious risk of injury — even when protective netting is present. For example, in Benejam v. Detroit Tigers, Inc., 246 Mich. App. 645, 635 N.W.2d 219 (Ct. App. 2001), bat fragments circumvented the protective netting provided behind home plate and injured a young spectator.1 The Court of Appeals of Michigan stated: care as a matter of law. The limited duty doctrine estab- lishes the outer limits of liability and thereby prevents a jury from requiring a stadium owner to take precautions that are clearly unreasonable . . . . By providing greater speci city with regard to the duty imposed on stadium owners, the rule prevents burgeoning litigation that might signal the demise or substantial alteration of the game of baseball as a spectator sport. (internal quota- tion marks and citations omitted). 

1. Michigan, like New York, applies the “quali ed duty of care” or the “limited duty of care” to the owners and operators of a baseball stadium. Signi cantly, in Benejam, the lower court cited to the New York Court of Appeals’ holding in Akins and also acknowledged that even when a pro- prietor provides such screening, the risks inherent in viewing the game cannot be completely eliminated. See Akins, 53 N.Y.2d at 331 and Bene- jam, 246 Mich. App. at 645. 

Likewise, the Payne action is silent regarding a spectator’s voluntary assumption of the risk. This is a separate defense that applies to the voluntary participation of a spectator despite a knowledge and apprecia- tion of the inherent risks in the activity — such as watching a baseball game from an unprotected area of a stadium. A spectator’s assumption of the risk removes any duty on the part of the defendant to protect the spectator from known or obvious risks associated with the activity such as the chance en- counter with a baseball or bat while a spectator at baseball game. 

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The Payne action, if successful, could result in a dramatically different expe- rience at a baseball game. Perhaps screening will be required in all areas of the stadium, including the upper deck and concourses. Perhaps the costs as- sociated with studies, retro tting ball- parks and essentially abrogating the baseball rule will result in higher ticket prices in order to defray the additional liabilities. Taking the arguments of the Payne pleading to their logical conclu- sion, there is little to prevent owners and operators of a baseball stadium from becoming insurers of spectators’ safety. Particularly if the spectators are inattentive or “distracted” by entertain- ment at the stadium or using Facebook during the game. Perhaps, to borrow the timeless observation of Justice Cardozo, the timorous should stay at home.2 

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Contact at HRRV Law – LEGAL Insights 2015 –

Carla Varriale: 646-747-5115 or carla. 

2. The defendants have led a motion to dis- miss the Payne action. The motion is scheduled to be heard on November 13, 2015. 

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National Recreation and Park Association Releases Study Quantifying Economic Impact of Local Parks !

NRPA Report identifies significant economic impact for all 50 states and the District of Columbia !


ASHBURN, VA., Nov. 19, 2015 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — The nation’s first economic impact report identifying and quantifying the economic contribution of the thousands of local and regional public parks throughout the country is now available through the National Recreation and Park Association (NRPA) and the findings are significant. The analysis shows that the nation’s local and regional parks generate nearly $140 billion in economic activity per year and support nearly 1 million jobs.

NRPA’s main focus for the economic impact study was to gain insight into the economic contribution local and regional parks create for the economy to help further solidify the essential value local parks offer, beyond what is traditionally understood.

“We’ve always known that local parks contribute to healthier communities, bring diverse populations together and support environmental conservation and stewardship,” says Barbara Tulipane president and CEO of NRPA. “All of these are important contributions to communities and are benefits felt by millions of people. Now, we know definitively that parks are also powerful engines of valuable economic activity and deserve support and recognition from elected officials, policymakers and the public.”

The report provides a detailed picture of the economic impact findings for all 50 states and the District of Columbia. Following are the top 10 states with the highest economic activity from local and regional public park spending:

  • California — $17.6 billion
  • Illinois — $12.9 billion
  • Florida — $7.4 billion
  • Texas — $ 6.3 billion
  • New York — $6.2 billion
  • Colorado — $4.6 billion
  • Ohio — $4.2 billion
  • Virginia — $3.7 billion
  • North Carolina — $3.0 billion
  • Minnesota — $2.8 billion

“From coast-to-coast, local parks are making a measurable impact on local economies,” says Tulipane. “A common thread we see is that those parks with robust support from both policymakers and the public are leading the way when it comes to economic activity.”

The study, conducted by the Center for Regional Analysis at George Mason University (GMU) for NRPA, focused exclusively on the direct, indirect and induced effects of park system spending with analysis based on data compiled by the U.S. Census Bureau and NRPA’s benchmarking database for local parks.

“Most folks don’t think of local and regional parks as contributing to the economy,” says Dr. Terry Clower, director of the Center for Regional Analysis at GMU and lead study author. “Clearly these parks are not only contributing to the quality of life, health and well-being of their communities, they are also providing employment opportunities and opportunities for businesses of all sizes.”

Overall, the economic impact study confirms that investments in public parks are investments for a better tomorrow. Local and regional public park spending not only turns neighborhoods, towns and cities into vibrant, connected communities, but also sparks economic activity that ripples well beyond the initial spending to create jobs and prosperity throughout our nation.

To review the report and methodology as well as a detailed analysis with case studies visit,

About The National Recreation and Park Association

The National Recreation and Park Association is a national not-for-profit organization dedicated to advancing park, recreation and conservation efforts that enhance quality of life for all people. Through its network of 50,000 recreation and park professionals and citizens, NRPA encourages the promotion of healthy and active lifestyles, conservation initiatives and equitable access to parks and public space. For more information, visit For digital access to NRPA’s flagship publication, Parks & Recreation, visit


Craft Beer gets price hike at Bulls, Blackhawks games !

Renovated concession stands at the United Center feature digital menu boards and removed beverage dispensers from in front of fans.

Renovated concession stands at the United Center feature digital menu boards and removed beverage dispensers from in front of fans.

Fans showing up to a sold-out United Center tonight for the Chicago Blackhawks’ training camp festival will be paying more for craft beers than they did last year.

Mixed in with a wide range of new locally themed food and drink options unveiled last week at the arena was a 50-cent increase on all imported and craft beers this season at Blackhawks and Chicago Bulls games.


Goose Island and Stella Artois beers at general concessions will cost $9.50 at the venue this fall, a result of growing demand for microbrews. Sales of craft beer nationwide rose 22 percent last year to $19.6 million, 11 percent of all U.S. beer sales, according to Boulder, Colo.-based craft beer trade group the Brewers Association.

Domestic beers from United Center beer partner Anheuser Busch InBev cost $8.50 apiece.

Prices of several other general concessions items are flat year-over-year, including hot dogs, pretzels and pizza, while nachos ($6.75), popcorn ($5.75) and select soft drinks increased by 25 cents each.


Those price tweaks, however, may not be as noticeable as the number of Chicago restaurants and bars that have invaded the Near West Side venue.

More than 90 new menu options from nearly a dozen local hot spots were introduced to the 100- and 200-level concourses over the summer, collectively branded as “Chicago’s Plate” by the arena and concessionaire Levy Restaurants.

The southwest corner of the main concourse is being transformed into a new Big Star location.

The southwest corner of the main concourse is being transformed into a new Big Star location.
LQ Chicken Shack, an offshoot of Lillie's Q barbecue, is now on the United Center club level.

LQ Chicken Shack, an offshoot of Lillie’s Q barbecue, is now on the United Center club level.

The impressive mix of local tastes is a major upgrade for the United Center, although prices on the upscale fare—while mostly consistent with what you’d pay at the restaurants themselves—are higher than the cost of general concessions.

Three tacos from Wicker Park taqueria Big Star cost $12 in a large renovated area in the United Center’s southwest corner that previously housed craft beer carts. Big Star is also offering a new item, Queso Fundido Nachos, for $11.50. West Town restaurant Leghorn Chicken now has a stand behind section 115 offering chicken sandwiches for $9.

At the 200-level, Lillie’s Q will sell its tri-tip sandwich for $10, in addition to offering pulled pork sandwiches and a walking taco with pimento cheese chips. Desserts in the club level include cupcakes from Sweet Mandy B’s in Lincoln Park for $4.75 apiece, as well as $5.50 candy bars from Amy’s Candy Bar in Ravenswood.


All concession stands at the arena also got significant face-lifts over the summer. Beverage dispensers were removed from the front of the stands to clear clutter, and digital video boards display the food offerings on either side of the concession stand walls.

Digital menu boards at each stand were also a key upgrade for the United Center. The video displays will allow the teams to tweak food and drink offerings in real time based on demand and how purchases correlate with things like game time and score.

Those video boards add to the 64 new 42-inch screens placed throughout the main concourse, as well as other new video screens just inside the gates on both Madison and Monroe streets.

Also new at the entrances are metal detectors, which replace security officials using wands to check people coming into games.


Overseeding Tips from a Pro !

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Overseeding Tips from a Pro . . . . . . . . . . . .

Overseeding tipsFor many groundskeepers in colder areas of the country, mid-to-late fall means it’s almost time to shut it down. It’s a time of year when we begin to winterize our baseball equipment, shut down irrigation, and take a small step back from the fields. Fall means spending more time with friends and family, enjoying time in the woods hunting, or sitting on the couch with a beer and watching football. It’s also a time when you can fall asleep at night without asking yourself, “Should we have pulled the tarp? Why the hell didn’t we pull the tarp out? Does this radar app even work?”

North vs. South – Who has it tougher?

I spent my whole life in Wisconsin before I moved to Arizona for my first of three grounds keeping positions for the city of Goodyear at the Cleveland Indians Player Development Complex. I made the move in February (and if you have ever experienced a Wisconsin February, you know that there is no better month in the year to head south). It wasn’t until I spent a few years without winter that I began to appreciate and miss the solitude, quietness, and overall tranquility of the season. Yes I also missed the beer, cheese curds, fish fry, and 24 hour Green Bay Packer coverage, but I’ll save that for another time.

What it also taught me was that everyone doesn’t have the luxury of taking a break from their fields. I don’t know who coined the term, “things move slower in the South”, but they obviously didn’t take consideration into the fact that Northerners have 3 months where it’s perfectly acceptable to move slowly. Perhaps things move ‘’slower’ because they have to take care of their fields ALL YEAR!

With that being said, I wanted to write a post with some tips for groundskeepers down south. Late fall for our southern friends brings on a variety of different tasks. For the purposes of this post, we’ll focus in on some basic fall overseeding tips.

Overseeding Tips

The optimum time for overseeding, based on typical temperature patterns, has passed us. However, with the current gradual increase in average temperatures, we may begin to see that date change.

Brandon BensonOur tips today come from longtime groundskeeper, Brandon Benson. Brandon has a turf degree from Texas Tech and has spent his entire career in central California and Arizona. Brandon spent many seasons as the head groundskeeper for the Visalia Rawhide before moving to Arizona where he took on the role as my mentor working for the city of Goodyear (he taught me groundskeeping and I taught him in how to drink a beer after work). Brandon is now the Sports Facility Crew Leader for the city of Peoria where he oversees six baseball fields, four multipurpose fields and whole lot of common areas. Here’s what he has to say about the art of overseeding – enjoy!

Tip #1: Planning Is Key

An enjoyable overseed experience is all in the preparation you do prior to overseeding. The first step is all about the planning and logistics. Planning is essential when dealing with multiple fields and sites that use shared equipment. Coordinating where and when equipment is used, properly scheduling employees, and deciding which fields are going to be prepped first will make it less stressful. It’s also imperative that communication occurs with the people scheduling events on your fields. You can’t expect everyone to understand the maintenance practices of athletic fields, so communicating and educating coaches, players, and anyone else involved is a must. The last thing we want is to be watching a soccer team practice on our recently over-seeded field.

Tip #2: Fix Irrigation Before Spreading Seed

Second tip is to make sure you don’t have any problems with irrigation before spreading seed. Moisture and temperature are the main factors with seed germination, and going out to the field and making irrigation repairs after your seed has been applied can damage and delay your process. With the need for moisture, our short window of time, and Mother Nature’s unavoidable delays; we must have our irrigation running optimally from the start. This ensures you won’t have any delays or missed opportunities for germination.

Tip #3: Expect the Unexpected

The third tip is that no matter how much planning and preparation you do, be prepared for the unexpected. Equipment will break, the weather will not cooperate, employees will get sick. Remember these things happen and it’s important to keep a positive frame of mind. This can be easier said than done. Even though it’s easy to get frustrated with unexpected problems, you must stay positive and remember there are some things out of your control.


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Lost Nation Sports Park West – Loraine, OH !

Lost Nation Sports Park West 

     It looks odd, until you think about the big picture.

Chris Dore — the general manager of the facility, which we wrote about in a recent Business of Life profile — said it’s all about maximizing the use of court space at the former Brad Friedel Premier Soccer Academy.

Futsal, which Dore, the boys soccer coach at Avon High School and a former member of the Cleveland Force, said is “the world’s version of indoor soccer,” is played on the two SportCourt surfaces that are also used for hoops and volleyball.

“It’s played with a ball that doesn’t have as much bounce, so the ball is designed to stay on the ground,” Dore said of Futsal.

Dore, a former Bowling Green standout, said playing soccer on a hard surface has perks that give it an advantage over the traditional form of indoor soccer, which is played on a turf field.

“It’s good for kids’ skill development because the ball stays on the ground and it’s not bouncing,” Dore said. “If a ball stays on the ground, they don’t have to look straight down at it because it’s easier to control. Now they can be more comfortable with the ball down at their feet, and pay attention to what’s going on around them. 

“Automatically, their soccer IQ is becoming better because they’re more aware of the spaces, where the defenders are coming from. It’s a way for soccer players to develop their skills in the winter time.”

Indoor soccer with walls “is slowly becoming obsolete,” Dore said.

The reason, according to the Avon coach: “It’s a game that became popular in the ’80s and was made popular by the guys who played it in the ’80s.”

Translation: Times change.

That’s why I really enjoyed my trip to the newly opened Lost Nation Sports Park West — which joins the successful Willoughby location under the Lost Nation umbrella. Instead of discussing basketball and soccer, two staples of the Lost Nation complexes, we spent a lot of time on such activities as Futsal, lacrosse, volleyball and flag football.

Mike Srsen, a former Browns chief financial officer who opened the Willoughby complex with the late Patrick Parker 17 years ago, said lacrosse is an increasingly popular sport at his facilities.

“I can tell you when we opened Lost Nation in 1998, lacrosse wasn’t even in our vernacular,” Srsen said. “Now the two fastest-growing sports in the time we’ve run it are Junior Olympic volleyball for girls and for both boys and girls, lacrosse has been the next great hope for average size boys and girls with good hand-eye coordination and aggressiveness.”

Some high school lacrosse teams practice at the Lost Nation complexes, and Mentor Youth Lacrosse books time in Willoughby.

“I see that happening here (in Lorain),” Srsen said.

And if you think indoor soccer is only for kids whose ages are in or near double digits, you’re way off.

“We have a program (in Willoughby) called Little Kickers that starts at 18 months, and we probably run a thousand to 1,100 kids a year through that program,” Srsen said. “It’s four sessions. That’s our minor league system, because if you bring in that young family and you treat them right, now they’re coming up with you as they get older. As long as you treat the customer right …”

Before Srsen could complete the sentence, his business partner, Chris Haas (who also owns All Pro Freight Systems Inc. in Avon), jumped in.

“It’s repeat business,” Haas said. “That’s what it’s all about.”

It’s also about getting kids engaged in sports at an early age.

And it doesn’t have to be football, basketball or baseball.

At complexes such as Lost Nation, there are a bunch of other options.


Cal Ripken Jr., Kevin Harvick Unveil New Sports Park In Greensboro !

GREENSBORO, NC – The Iron Man, baseball legend Cal Ripken Jr., made a stop in the Triad Wednesday.  Ripken Jr., along with NASCAR champion Kevin Harvick, were at the future site of the Salvation Army’s Boys & Girls Club in Greensboro dedicating a new, multi-purpose turf field.

 Cal Ripken JR. In GSO 

The Kevin Harvick Foundation partnered with the Cal Ripken Sr. Foundation to build this so-called “Field of Dreams.”

After a ribbon cutting ceremony, Ripken Jr. and Harvick had some fun and played Quickball with some of the kids.

This park marks the 51st youth development park completed by the Cal Ripken Sr. Foundation. Those parks are in 16 states across the country.

NEW ERA Nears For Sunny Lake Concessions Stand; Aurora Men In Charge !


Aurora, CO. — The concession stand at Sunny Lake Park will be upgraded next summer to provide a gourmet niche.

There will be a grill for hamburgers and a large ceramic smoker for items like smoked brisket and smoked pork.

“We’ll use the smoker for some of the bigger events so people will be able to get something more substantial to eat,” said David Lasky, who will operate Sunny Lake Events Services at the park’s concession stand along with Scott Holman. Both are Aurora residents.

That will be in addition to other concession stand items on sale throughout the summer, including Nathan’s hot dogs, ice cream, nachos, chips, pizza and pop.

The concession stand will be operational from April to October.

Lasky said the idea came from an effort by the parks-rec department to get food products delivered to the Sunny Lake fields.

Holman said it will be exciting to partner with the city, especially while doing it as parents.

“We have some great ideas,” he said. “We’ve seen what’s out there. We think ours will be pretty cool to show off. David and I are big advocates of Aurora.

“When we get to share with others what Aurora is, that’s a cool thing. We’re proud of what our city is.”

Holman said the concession stand will provide a convenience for people.

“Instead of going into town to get food, it will be great to have that facility for people to go to,” he said. “There are a lot of baseball families.”

Lasky said their vision is for the concession stand to be operated by Aurora residents, “so whoever works there is an integral part of our community. Most communities are proud of entrepreneurial spirit. Employing people from your community is important.

“Currently, when you rent a boat at the boat house pavilion, no food service is provided,” he said. “We also hope to provide catering options. There is a desire to have catering as part of the rental.”

Lasky said on the ballfield side, “we’ve gone to different concession stands operated by communities. We hope to have a higher quality of food than people have received at other concession stands.”

He said the ballfield concession stand will be open when games are scheduled, and the smoker will be there for larger events such as tournaments and for catering at the boat house.

Lasky said their group worked at the city’s recent fall festival.

“To have a simple food service there is something the community is excited about,” he said. “And to be able to have a dinner rather than a couple of hot dogs, people are excited about that, too.”

Lasky said he and Holman make a good team “between Scott’s experience in the food service industry and mine in the concession area.

“I worked for a sports service from Maryland that provided food for the Indians, Browns and Cavs,” he said.



Lorain, OH soccer academy transforms into multisport complex !


 Loraine, OH – The operators of a Lorain sports complex want to be a game-changer in the city and the entire west side of Cleveland.

Lost Nation Sports Park West, 2101 All Pro Athletic Parkway, Lorain, will open its doors to the public from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Oct. 17th.

The event marks the next step in the transformation of the former Brad Friedel Premier Soccer Academy to become a sports training complex that is open to the public.

“The potential here is pretty significant,” said Mike Srsen, developer of the Lost Nation Sports Park in Willoughby and former treasurer of the Cleveland Browns.

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The 80,000-square-foot field house has been partitioned with spaces separated by lines marking fields of play and hanging nets to stop the flight of stray balls.

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“This used to be one big soccer field,” said Joe Magill, assistant general manager of the facility.

On Oct. 14, the Lost Nation Sports Park West was a hub of activity as crews ran steam cleaners over 50,000 square feet of indoor turf.

Freshly painted lines were drying on two full-size basketball courts. Carpenters were building the platform that will become an indoor batting cage with Iron Mike pitching machines for eight batting stations.

There are new walls set up to delineate a smaller practice space for youths. Some bleachers were set up for spectators while others were turned up on the side to make room for work.

The facility is undergoing a transformation because it was designed and built for soccer players and coaches, not multiple uses and spectators, said Chris Dore, general manager of Lost Nation Sports Park West.

“The whole concept is to make sure it’s multisport,” Dore said. “You can do all of the different sports that you want here.

“Looking out into the field, there aren’t a lot of facilities that are opened up like this, so we’ve got a lot of room to play,” he said.

The academy, originally intended to be a development institute for aspiring professional soccer players, opened in 2007. It went bankrupt in 2009 and has been used as a training facility by the Cleveland Gladiators.

Chris Haas, owner of All-Pro Freight, purchased the property in October 2013. In August, Haas and Srsen announced the new name and joint venture to develop the best multisport, year-round complex on the west side of Cleveland.

“We think we hopefully will be delivering that message when we open up,” Srsen said.

The field house is the first stage of redeveloping the soccer academy to become Lost Nation Sports Park West.

The soccer academy was built with a living center with 20 dorm rooms for players. There is a coaches lounge, a house parents room, a balcony overlooking an outdoor soccer field behind the center, a learning center, a commercial grade kitchen and cafeteria and a weight room.

That center has potential to provide housing for players and their families and to become a new sports-themed restaurant. Srsen noted The Players Club at Lost Nation Sports Park is a key part of that sports complex.

“I think, in general, this has been sort of a hidden jewel in Lorain County,” Srsen said. “What we’re doing is evolutionary, not revolutionary. We want to do things methodically and correctly, build it up.”

Communities such as Avon, Avon Lake and Westlake are growing quickly with young families, Srsen said. The Lost Nation Sports Park West will not necessarily be an overnight sensation, but the operators want to set the foundation for long-term success, he said.

“On this side of town, once again my gut feeling is, the potential is there to provide the same type of product and service that we do on the east side,” Srsen said. “I think we’ll be very well received.”

The facility will remain the training center of the Cleveland Gladiators team of the Arena Football League.


Tyger River Park wins the 2015 ASA Complex of the Year presented by Stabilizer Solutions !

2015 ASA Complex of the Year

OKLAHOMA CITY —After hosting numerous ASA/USA events this year, Tyger River Park in Duncan, S.C. has been selected as the 2015 Amateur Softball Association (ASA) of America/USA Softball Complex of the Year presented by Stabilizer Solutions, Inc. Announced today by ASA/USA Softball, Tyger River Park, operated by Spartanburg Parks and Recreation Department, will receive their award at the 84th ASA/USA Annual Meeting in Louisville, Ky. and will also receive approximately $2,000 in field maintenance products from Stabilizer Solutions. 

“Congrats to Tyger River Park on winning the 2015 Complex of the Year award,” said Chris Sebren, ASA/USA Director of Championships.  “Spartanburg has built an exceptional facility that provides fans and teams with everything that they could dream of and more. This is truly one of the premier complexes in the United States.”

Previous award winners include Arrowhead Park (Broken Arrow, Okla.) in 2014, Charlie McVay Complex (Roswell, N.M.) in 2013, the Botetourt Sports Complex (Botetourt County, Va.) in 2012, the James I. Moyer Sports Complex (Salem, Va.) in 2011, Veterans Park and Athletic Complex (College Station, Texas) in 2010, Heritage Park Softball Complex (St. Joseph, Mo.) in 2009, Twin Creeks Softball Complex (Woodstock, Ga.) in 2008 and Freedom Ridge Park Complex (Ridgeland, Miss.) in 2007. The Field of Dreams Complex (Las Cruces, N.M.) won the inaugural 2006 award. 

“Congratulations to all those who have helped Tyger River Park join the ranks of ASA/USA Complex of the Year award winners,” said Jon Hubbs, President of Stabilizer Solutions, Inc.  “These fields have to be in premier shape, as they are the centerpiece of a true recreational paradise.”

Built in 2012, Tyger River Park is South Carolina’s premier baseball and softball tournament facility. The complex sits on 137 acres and features a disc-golf course, a ‘splash pad’ to escape the summer heat, four picnic shelters, over 10 acres of playground equipment and fitness trails that have outdoor fitness equipment. Inside the ballpark, there are 12 baseball/softball fields, a championship stadium field and batting cages. The 12 fields are clustered in groups of four in an overall park layout resembling a four-leaf clover. Each field offers covered spectator seating, spacious covered dugouts with major league style benches and 14-foot scoreboards with countdown game timers. The championship stadium has stadium seating for a capacity of 600 and showcases 300-foot fences to give teams and fans the ultimate championship experience. Each cluster of fields has a “scorers tower” that serves all four fields while a park-wide sound system allows staff to keep communication with fans in case of an emergency. At the heart of Tyger River Park is an observation tower, located right next to the clubhouse, which overlooks the entire park.

“This a tremendous achievement for South Carolina ASA/USA and the County of Spartanburg,” said South Carolina ASA/USA Softball Commissioner Chad Greene. “I have personally traveled the country with ASA/USA Softball and Tyger River Park is definitely one of the top complexes in North America and I have the luxury of having it in my backyard. This award is truly an honor and we are thrilled to accept it.”

Most recently, Tyger River Park hosted the 2015 ASA/USA Girls’ 18U Class A National Championship, which was held at the end of July. For more information on Tyger River Park, please visit

About ASA/USA Softball
Founded in 1933, the Amateur Softball Association (ASA)/USA Softball is the National Governing Body Softball in the United States and a member of the United States Olympic Committee. One of the nation’s largest sports organizations, ASA/USA Softball sanctions competition in every state through a network of 74 local associations and has grown from a few hundred teams in the early days to over 165,000 teams today, representing a membership of more than 2.5 million.  ASA/USA is responsible for training, equipping and promoting the six USA Softball National Teams that compete in international and domestic competitions. The USA Softball Women’s National Team is one of only two women’s sports involved in the Olympic movement to capture three consecutive gold medals at the Olympic Games since 1996. The U.S. women have also won nine World Championship titles as well as claimed eight World Cup of Softball titles. For more information about ASA/USA Softball, please visit


[ SODA is an Allied Member of ASA/USA Softball ]

Big changes in works for Family First Sports Park in Erie, PA. !



   Erie, PA. may soon be a little icier thanks to renovation plans for a local sports complex.

Family First Sports Park may soon have a new owner, one that promises to bring more ice rinks to the area and turn the complex into one of the best on this side of the country.

Family First Sports Park is currently home to soccer fields, basketball courts and a driving range, but hockey fans say there’s something missing: ice rinks.

Bob Catalde, President of Greater Regional Erie Athletic Team Training or G.R.E.A.T.T. says he’s committed to changing that.

“This whole thing started with me looking for the ideal location to build a new ice rink,” Catalde said. “It became more and more apparent that a standalone ice rink is very difficult to be self-sufficient.”


Catalde is in an agreement to purchase Family First Sports Park and plans on turning it into a premier sports park. He says the new facility would be the best sports park Erie has ever had and one of the best on this side of the country.

“This is an ambitious project, but one that we think its completion will really put Erie on the map for a lot of reasons,” Catalde said.

Erie residents, particularly hockey players and fans, say this is hockey town and that bringing more ice rinks the Erie is exactly what many residents want.

“We are stretched for ice time as it is,” local hockey player Chris Leszek said. “When basketball season gets here and it goes against what the Otters are doing, there’s always room for more rink. We need more ice.”

The plans for Family First Sports Park also include new soccer, baseball, football and lacrosse fields.

Now, G.R.E.A.T.T. is waiting for the state budget to be passed, so that they can get the funding they need.