The SODA Blog

The official blog of the Sportsplex Operators & Developers Association

Creating a 12-Month Marketing Plan for Your Sports Facility !

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   When you’re considering how to best market your sports facility to your community, the most important thing to do is to plan ahead, whether your business is brand new or has been around for decades.

Sure, things can change at a moment’s notice, and owning a business requires a good deal of flexibility. You don’t have to set all the minutia in stone for what happens a year from now, but having a general plan is essential. As I’ve mentioned before, planning ahead is especially critical to avoid a slow season and the subsequent lull in revenue that can make or break your business.

When establishing an annual marketing plan, break the year down by deciding what to focus on each month. Write down:

  1. What your clients will want to buy that month. You know your clients better than anyone. Familiarize yourself with local school schedules and sports schedules. Which sports and fitness programs are the most popular in your community, and when? Notes those details on your calendar.
  2. What programs, classes or events will provide the optimal revenue for your facility. Remember that each area in your facility should have multiple uses throughout the day, and that diversifying your space will maximize your revenue. Keep your clients’ range of ages and interests in mind when planning programming to make sure that there’s something for everyone. Remember, each square foot of space costs you money every day, and each square foot should be generating as much money for your business as possible. Don’t worry about getting too detailed here; the most important thing is to note the start dates, staffing, focus, and tentative pricing. You can finalize all the details as the event gets closer.
  3. What special events and promotions you can run to reach your goals. As the business owner or manager, it’s up to you to come up with promotions that will entice your customers while still allowing you to meet all your financial obligations and keep your doors open. New businesses, in particular, need to offer discounts to get new customers in the door. Plan promotions with care and update the pricing as your financial needs change.

Once you’ve established your general outline of events, it’s time to pencil in the associated to-do lists on a calendar. At DNA Sports Center, we’ve found that the ideal window for getting the initial word out about a new class, program or promotion is six to eight weeks ahead of time. That doesn’t mean that the classes will fill up that early, although sometimes they do. But it does get people thinking about the event. We typically send out a dedicated emailer at that point. Then, a few weeks later, we remind our Facebook fans about the event or class. Then, at the beginning of the week of the actual class or event, or the registration deadline for the class or event, if that comes first, we send out yet another emailer linking directly to the registration page.

Having these specific to-dos on a calendar that is highly visible to your staff will keep everyone on track. Just make sure that after your detailed month-to-month marketing plan is developed, someone on staff is in charge of enforcing the deadlines associated with it. That includes revisiting the plan every month to make additional changes and add details. Every six months you should be planning ahead for the next six, so that you’re a year ahead at all times.

- See more at: http://www.sportsfacilityexpert.com/2012/03/29/creating-a-12-month-marketing-plan-for-your-sports-facility/#sthash.PZLPuGp8.dpuf

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Myrtle Beach Sports Center Announces Signing of 17 Occasion Contracts New Facility, Scheduled To Open in March 2015, Has Nearly Sold Out Its Very first Six Months !

Clearwater, FL (PRWEB) November, 2014

Myrtle Beach, SC is the third largest tourism location in America behind Orlando and Las Vegas – its longtime focus on sports is 1 cause the beach town has grow to be so well-liked. John MacDonald, Common Manager of the new Myrtle Beach Sports Center positioned in Myrtle Beach, has announced the signing of 17 event contracts for the new facility, which is scheduled to open in March 2015. “Response has been phenomenal,” says MacDonald. “There are only two weekends still open for the center’s initial six months of operation—Easter and Memorial day.”

Myrtle Beach Sports Center will incorporate one hundred,000 square feet of year-round tournament and events space. The center delivers eight high school basketball courts or 16 volleyball courts with full-length retractable curtains. The courts are also lined so as to be configurable as four collegiate/specialist basketball courts.

“Basketball and volleyball are not the only choices, of course,” says MacDonald. “The center has 70,000 square feet of totally free-span space it is developed to host mat sports, table tennis, pickle ball, trade shows, and numerous other sorts of events.”

When not at the Sports Center, MacDonald notes, athletes and their households will have a host of region activities to select from. These incorporate the Myrtle Beach Boardwalk, named the nation’s number-three boardwalk by National Geographic Household Kingdom Amusement Park, considered the fifth-ideal amusement park in the nation the Huntington Beach and Myrtle Beach State Parks a wide selection of musical entertainment, which includes the Carolina Opry and comprehensive, family-friendly purchasing.1

“This new facility and its locale in one particular of the significant tourist destinations in the U.S.,” says MacDonald, “makes it a have to quit for any occasion owner that wants to give athletic teams with the ultimate in customer service, facilities, value, and guest experience—in and outside of the competition venue.”

Amongst the groups that will be moving their events next year to the Myrtle Beach Sports Center sits the National Travel Basketball Association (NTBA). Says NTBA President John Whitley, “Having the new Myrtle Beach Sports Center permits NTBA to now bring its 1st-class tournaments to a first-class facility. We will be hosting our State and National Championships at the MBSC, and becoming capable to have the games below 1 roof is merely a win-win for all involved, but especially the spectators.”

A essential aspect in the accomplishment of the new Myrtle Beach Sports Center, and of related facilities nationwide, is an explosion of interest in youth and travel sports. “Youth sports tourism wasn’t even a category 4 years ago,” says Dave Hollander, a professor at New York University’s Tisch Center for Hospitality, Tourism, and Sports, “and now it’s the fastest-growing segment in travel. You have got millions of youngsters involved, parents spending thousands of dollars, and cities constructing facilities to host events. It is just massive.”

According to a recent USA Right now survey, at least 35 million youngsters between five and 18 currently play an organized sport every single year in the U.S. Of these, 21 million are involved in non-college youth sports. “I do not see this as trending downward,” says Hollander. “Check out the neighborhood youth sports Television channels in your neighborhood. They are continuing to grow. Cities and towns are seeing advantages as these trips turn into mini-vacations for households, so their incentive to be a player in this is also expanding.”2

Even though the opportunity is real and developing, Dev Pathik, Founder and CEO, Sports Facilities Advisory and Sports Facilities Management, cautions that becoming a player in youth sports demands accurate analysis and planning. Speaking of the Myrtle Beach Sports Center, he says, “The city engaged us to generate a detailed economic forecast and financial effect projections for [Myrtle Beach Sports Center] from the time the project was in its infancy, and then hired our management team, to oversee the pre-opening and day to day operations.”

This cautious and detailed strategy, notes Pathik, is crucial to the success of any new sports facility. “Even with a excellent location and a booming market,” he says, “you have to make particular that what you are doing is precisely calibrated to the marketplace. We recognize this simply because it is our enterprise.”

SFA|SFM works with government entities, economic institutions, private developers, institutional customers, and faith-primarily based organizations to assist them—from the ground up—to optimize the return they make on their investment.

About Sports Facilities Advisory and Sports Facilities Management (SFA|SFM):

The Sports Facilities Advisory and Sports Facilities Management (SFA|SFM) is the leading resource in sports facility arranging and management. SFA|SFM has served a portfolio totaling a lot more than $ 4Billion in planned and operational sports centers in communities throughout the USA and internationally given that its founding in 2003. Youth and amateur sports and neighborhood recreation centers now require professional planning and management. SFA’s proprietary data system—based on years of arranging, funding and managing facilities, coupled with the rise of the youth sports segment—is the engine behind the improvement of SFM. Since its inception, SFM has become an business leader in the management of amateur sports and events complexes, and along with SFA, offers the preparing, financing and management knowledge needed to turn suggestions into profitable recreation facilities. SFA|SFM serves each public and private clientele. Its services fall into four major categories: program, fund, open and handle, which encompass each phase from early stage feasibility studies to preparing financing documents, overseeing development and opening and complete-time management solutions. SFA|SFM’s achievement depends upon its mission to dramatically increase communities by way of the opening or optimization of sports and recreation centers. For a lot more info, pay a visit to http://www.sportadvisory.com/home.html.

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Preventing Theft at your Sports Center !

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Being a victim of theft is always painful. It feels very personal, whether the thief steals from you directly or from your sports center.

Potential stolen assets range from physical products (such as candy bars from the concession stand) to data (such as client contact information). Even if you haven’t been stolen from yet, you should prepare for your sports center to be targeted. Here are a few steps to take.

Preventing Equipment and Merchandise Theft:
Research the options for tracking your facility’s hardware. iPhones have built-in GPS systems, for example, and there are apps available that can track other devices if they’re stolen.
Track all purchases at your sports center- particularly cash sales – with a reliable system that records the details of what has been purchased and which employee completed the transaction. Even concession stand sales can be easily tracked with a simple point of sale system. When this type of data isn’t recorded automatically, theft and miscalculations result in lost revenue – and small losses add up quickly.
Employees should check other equipment in and out for customers using a reliable system, electronic or otherwise.
Preventing Customer Data Theft:
Your customer database is extremely valuable, and having it stolen affects both your bottom line and your reputation, because clients trust you to keep their information safe and private.

I have heard too many firsthand stories from clients whose databases have been taken by employees for use at a competing sports center. If your employees can access your client database, you need to know who accesses it, when, and from where. (eSoft Planner provides custom staff permissions levels and tracks downloads and for this reason.) I hope this is obvious, but I’ll say it anyway: If you’re using a simple spreadsheet on your computer to track these client details, you’re leaving yourself and your clients very vulnerable.

Remember: 99% of your staff will never try to steal from you. There’s no reason to go overboard or get paranoid; your staff needs reasonable access to your clients’ information for day-to-day operations. However, there’s also no reason make your full customer database easy to download.

Preventing Theft of Services:
This type of sports facility theft is the most common, and it’s the one with which sports facility owners are the most complacent. When a client schedules and then does not pay for a lesson or class – whether they attend or not, and whether they did it deliberately or not – you’re being taken advantage of. You lose money from the lesson itself, but you also lose money in the form of the instructor’s time and the space that could have been used for other purposes. This is why I’m so adamant about requiring upfront payment at my own sports facility. If a client later cancels for what you determine to be a legitimate excuse, you can always opt to give them a full or partial refund at that point.

You can never completely prevent theft, and only you can evaluate how much energy you want to invest in deterring, investigating and prosecuting theft at your sports facility. Remember that your time and your energy are your greatest assets, and stressing out over a stolen company iPad for a week can cost you much more in the form of lost time and energy than what you originally paid for the stolen equipment.

eSoft Planner can track equipment, purchases and employee activities, all of which help prevent theft at your facility. Submit a free demo request if you’d like to see the tool for yourself. If you’d like to consult with me on sports facility management, call (513) 791-4940.

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ASA/USA Complex of the Year 2014 !

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Arrowhead Park in Broken Arrow, Okla.

named 2014 ASA/USA Complex of the Year

OKLAHOMA CITY —After hosting two ASA/USA National Championships this year, including the inaugural 2014 ASA/USA Girl’s 16U Gold National Championship, Arrowhead Park in Broken Arrow, Okla. has been selected as the 2014 Amateur Softball Association (ASA) of America/USA Softball Complex of the Year presented by Stabilizer Solutions, Inc. Announced today by ASA/USA Softball, Arrowhead Park will receive their award at the 83rd ASA/USA Annual Meeting in Reno, Nev. and will also receive approximately $2,000 in field maintenance products from Stabilizer Solutions.

“Arrowhead Park stepped up to the plate this year as hosts of the first-ever ASA/USA 16U Gold,” said Chris Sebren, ASA/USA Director of Championships. “With less than a year to plan the 48-team tournament, the staff and city’s efforts to create a first-class experience for the fans and athletes shows just how deserving of this award they truly are.”

Previous award winners include the 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.

“Oklahoma ASA is honored to have Arrowhead Park in Broken Arrow to be named the 2014 ASA Complex of the Year,” said Oklahoma ASA Junior Olympic (JO) Commissioner Carolyn Shafer. “Broken Arrow Girls Softball has been a long time supporter of ASA. Thank you to the staff of Broken Arrow Girls Softball for making this award possible.”

Built in 1995 as an eight-field complex, Arrowhead Park underwent a renovation in 2013 that included the addition of four fields to bring their total to 12. Staffed and operated by the Broken Arrow Girls Softball League, the complex sits of 30 acres and features a walking trail and park just outside the fields. Inside the ballpark, each field offers covered spectator seating, covered dugouts for the athletes and coaches, digital scoreboards and a PA system. In addition to the covered seating, the complex features two gazebos at each grouping of fields for spectators to watch the action on four different fields. Fans also have access to free wireless internet at the complex.

“Congratulations to all those who have helped Arrowhead Park join the ranks of Complex of the Year award winners,” said Jon Hubbs, President of Stabilizer Solutions, Inc. “It is obvious that their success comes from dedication to providing not only top fields for play, but a true overall experience for players and spectators alike. We look forward to their continued success and innovative practices.”

Most recently, Arrowhead Park hosted the inaugural ASA/USA Girls’ 16U Gold National Championship, which was held July 21-26. Eight of the fields were utilized for game play while the remaining four fields were dedicated solely as warm up areas for teams. All fields of play offered free online stats during the weeklong National Championship, while Field 1 offered free live streaming. Arrowhead Park also held the ASA/USA Girls’ 18U Class A Southern National Championship July 13-19.

About ASA
The Amateur Softball Association, founded in 1933, is the National Governing Body of softball in the United States and a member of the United States Olympic Committee. The ASA has become one of the nation’s largest sports organizations and now sanctions competition in every state through a network of 76 local associations. The ASA 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. For more information on the ASA, visit http://www.asasoftball.com/.

About USA Softball
USA Softball is the brand created, operated and owned by the ASA that links the USA Men’s, Women’s, Junior Boys’ and Junior Girls’ National Team programs together. USA Softball is responsible for training, equipping and promoting these four National Teams to 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 six World Cup of Softball titles. For more information about USA Softball, please visit http://www.usasoftball.com/.

Codi Warren, Assistant Director of Marketing and Communications

Amateur Softball Association of America/USA Softball
Office 405.425.3431 | Cell 405. 420. 2817

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“SODA is an Allied Member of ASA/USA Softball since 1983″

Sports Facility Operations: Automated and Streamlined !

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As I train sports facility owners and managers on how to set up their businesses with eSoft Planner online scheduling software, they often tell me specifically how their facility operates and expect the system to conform to their operations exactly.

In reality, you’re not likely to find a system that can replicate your operations in every way. Some flexibility is required when you’re automating your operations with a software program. This automation always saves time and money in the long run compared to scheduling by hand or using an Excel spreadsheet, so it’s definitely worth making a few tweaks – either to the software or to the systems in place at your sports facility.

In fact, existing facilities that are starting to use a new software program have a good opportunity to re-evaluate operational practices. Keep in mind that most sports facility scheduling software is built to accommodate the operations at a majority of sports facilities. If your own scheduling practices deviate wildly from the norm, it’s worth considering the benefits of the alternatives that are presented to you, especially because it’s difficult to change your software once it’s already been set up.

I typically get pushback during the setup process when facilities want to be more lenient with their customers than the system suggests. eSoft Planner, in particular, was built specifically to help sports facilities save money by preventing lost revenue due to last-minute cancellations and no-shows by requiring upfront payment at your sports facility. If clients are used to paying for private lessons when they show up for that lesson, they might not like upfront payment at first, but that doesn’t mean they won’t get used to it. (eSoft Planner does allow sports facilities to set aside time without payment – but we don’t encourage it!)

However, if your software system can’t do something that you’ve determined is important to your clients and your bottom line, there are usually minor workarounds that can be achieved. Software systems and sports facilities may use different language to descripbe the similar services and operations. When setting up your facility software, everything boils down to how and when you require your clients to pay for their services.

For example, in eSoft Planner, you can:

*  charge clients regularly each month for services to be used that month (referred to as a “membership”),

*  have a client pay up front for a group of services that need to be used before an expiration date (referred to as a “package”)
*  have a client pay upfront to enroll in a series of group lessons all at once (referred to as a “camp”)
*  have a client pay for group lessons, one at a time (we set these up as “classes”)

One recent client balked at the restrictions because his facility had defined “sessions” that started on the same date each month for everyone and had a pre-determined number of classes in each. Since eSoft Planner’s “memberships” can start on any day of the month, he wasn’t sure the software was a good fit.

However, we quickly determined that clients starting mid-session could just purchase the remaining lessons in the session as “classes.” They could purchase a “package” if they just wanted to pay for one month, and if they wanted to auto enroll in future sessions, a “membership” would work.
Remember to be open minded and work with your software provider to come up with the bests solution for your sports facility.

If you have any questions about how you can make scheduling at your facility more efficient, I’d be happy to set up a consultation session with you.

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Post-Season Ballfield Renovations, part 3 ! – Beacon Athletics

Our first taste of late autumn chill has come and gone as renovation to ball fields has hit a fevered pitch. The race is on to get field projects done before the colder winter weather sets in across much of the U.S

In the north, we have about a month or two left before old man winter’s icy winds will begin to shut things down but down south there is still ample time to do renovation work to your fields provided there is a break in the scheduled use of the facilities.

With the renovations we have covered in our previous posts (Part 1Part 2), your turf and infield skin should be in fine shape by now. We’ll wrap up post-season renovations by paying attention to the two areas on the ball field that see the bulk of the abusive wear — the mound and home plate areas.

What started as a great pitching mound in the spring with its well defined table and perfectly sculpted front slope sometimes better resemble a pimple by the end.

To start the mound renovation process, begin with determining whether the pitching rubber needs to be replaced or turned (If it is a block pitching rubber). If the rubber needs replacing or turning, reference the directions under “Setting The Pitching Rubber” in Beacon’s Online Field Dimensions & Reference Guide (order your hard copy today from our webstore) to ensure proper placement and alignment of the new or turned pitching rubber.

Once the pitching rubber is secure, sweep all loose soil and topdressing material off the entire mound surface and dispose of it. All loose contaminants like this must be removed in order for new clay to properly bind to the existing mound clay. Score the area where the table is located at the top of the mound to cut down any high spots and provide a rough surface for new clay to bind to. Add clay as needed until the clay surface of the mound table is level and even with the surface of the rubber once fully compacted. Check the surface of the table with a level for accuracy.

Next, setup a slope gauge on the front of the mound to measure existing conditions. Cut and shave any high areas while marking to indicate low areas. Add clay where needed, roll and tamp firmly. Replace the gauge on the front slope of the mound and continue to make adjustments as needed until the slope across the face of the mound is perfect. Finish by rolling the front slope smooth. The sides and back of the mound should have a consistent slope that runs from the clay area edges on the mound to the grass edge at the base of the mound.

If you topdress your mound, I would suggest holding off until the start of next season so it looks fresh when that first game is played in the spring. Plus, if you are in a northern climate where frost is likely, you will probably see some heaving of the surface of the mound which should be rolled next spring before applying the topdressing. Your mound is now ready to overwinter. Remember to keep it covered, if possible, to prevent erosion from rainfall.

The home plate area also suffers its share of abuse over the course of a season. Low spots are likely in the batter’s and catcher’s boxes and where the runners accelerate up the foul line just outside of the left-handed batter’s box. High spots usually develop where the umpire stands behind the catcher and along the outer edge of the home plate circle from dragging.

Before winter sets in, strip all loose topdressing and soils from the home plate area. Aggressivelynail drag the home plate area to scarify the high spots down. Use a level board or rake to pull the excess material in the high spots away and into the low areas. Continue to work the surface until the high spots appears level. Check your work by stretching a string line from the surface of the home plate to the grass edge of the home plate circle. Make sure the string is very tight to avoid improper readings. Where the surface pushes the string up, it is likely still high. Use a sharpened iron rake or X-drag to make further cuts to lower the high spots then pull the excess to low areas. Bring in additional material as needed to finish the leveling. When finished roll the soil tight.

If the home plate is in need of replacing or flipping (if you have a 2-sided plate), this can be done before or after re-leveling the home plate area. Be sure to accurately measure all distance points from the plate and that the plate sits level when finished.

Since the home plate area is mostly a flat level surface, I usually will leave this area uncovered during the winter to allow it to gobble up as much moisture as it can. Again, I suggest not to place fresh topdressing on this area until spring. That brings me to a point I forgot to mention in last month’s post. More and more recreational fields are using topdressings on them, which is a very good thing. But there is something you should consider in preparing your fields to overwinter. Some topdressing materials more than others can easily be blown around by winter winds. Winter is when we typically see our strongest winds, usually associated with the stronger winter storms.

If your field is in a northern climatewhere snow covers the ground during the majority of the winter, then there is nothing to worry about.

However, if you are in a part of the country where your field sits all winter unprotected from the wind, then you are susceptible to having some of your topdressing building up in the grass edges of your infield skin over winter.

Up at the higher levels of ballfield management, crews usually remove the topdressing layer once the ball season is over in order to prevent the material from building lips over the winter. In the recreational ballfield setting, this usually isn’t possible due to the number of fields and lack of time and resources to dedicate to the project.

So, there are other ways to protect your field, like stapling down filtration socks (pictured) near the edges of the infield skins to stop the topdressing from blowing into the grass edges. These socks are often filled with chopped straw, compost, or other lightweight materials, and are really all it takes to keep your topdressing on the infield and out of your grass edges. Cheap, easy, and quick to put in place. It sure beats spending time in the spring cleaning out your turf edges.

Perhaps you have other ideas on how to capture the topdressing before it plants itself in your turf edges. If you do, send me your pictures and ideas (paulz@beaconathletics.com) and we’ll share them with our readers in our next blog post.

Keep our Beacon Probrick in mind for all of your post-season mound and home plate renovations. It’s a great option for those heavy traffic areas. One last thing… you may be interested in watching theBulldog Home Plate Installation video below. Until next time…

– Paul Zwaska is the former head groundskeeper for the Baltimore Orioles; You can learn more at Groundskeeper University

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Number of intramural flag football teams in decline !

     A losing Texas Longhorns football team may not only affect game attendance but also registration for intramural flag football, according to a Division of Recreational Sports official.

Between 2011 and 2013, the number of total registered teams for intramural flag football in the fall decreased 12.9 percent, from 387 to 337, according to Rec Sports. As of Monday, there are 284 teams registered for this season. Darci Doll, senior assistant director for Rec Sports, said the registration deadline has been extended to Friday to give teams more time to sign up.

Doll said the highest number of flag football teams in recent years was 416 in fall 2006, a few months after Texas’ national championship win at the Rose Bowl.

“When the campus community is excited about a certain sport, they want to be involved in it as more than just a fan,” Doll said in an email.

In an interview, Doll said, while fall flag football registrants have been declining, the popularity of intramural soccer has been increasing over the past four to five years. The number of total registered fall soccer teams has increased 5.2 percent, from 232 in 2013 to 244 this season, and is still rising, according to Doll.

Doll said the growth in soccer registrants could be a result of both the popularity of the summer’s FIFA World Cup in Brazil and the increase in prevalence of the sport across the state.

“We see more students who have enrolled in UT who have played recreational soccer all their lives,” Doll said.

Men and women are exposed to soccer more equally, Doll said, unlike football, which is primarily played by men.

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Tustin Sports Park: For Play Days Under the Sun Shade !

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by Michele Whiteaker

Tustin Sports Park is home to tennis courts, baseball diamonds, basketball courts, a picnic area, and a SHADE-covered playground. Its bright red color makes it feel festive and happy. A number of families were there on a hot weekend morning when we visited. Thanks to the family who took the time to recommend this park (I marked their comments in quotes).

Location: Tustin Sports Park is very easy to find right off Interstate 5. Drive towards the foothills past the huge Tustin Marketplace shops. The park is a left turn onto Robinson plus a very obvious left turn into the parking lot. [Address: 12850 Robinson Drive, Tustin] MAP to Tustin Sports Park in Tustin

Recommended by: A Fun OC Parks Visitor

Highlights:

The “big play area with canopy” is definitely its biggest perk. No battling hot slides or overly sweaty kids.
It’s a “full sports park”
“Nice seating area with grills for picnics”
“Full walking/running path with distance markers”
My family loved the slides – steep, twisty, spiral, tunnel. All the fun ones!
2 bench swings and 2 baby swings (not under the shade cover)

Be Aware:

Some slippery spots from the sand on concrete and sand on recycled rubber
During large sports events/weekends, I can see this place would be packed with people.

Checklist:

Parking in a dedicated lot – no fee
Sand and recycled rubber play surface
Picnic area is set away from the playground
Very nice restrooms in the big building near the Express Sports Cafe
Drinking fountains near the restrooms and on the other side near the baseball diamond. Shade under the playground cover and over viewing benches
Easy to view kids from almost every angle.
I was told the vending machines don’t work. Every time the mom I spoke to tried them, she lost her $.
The Express Sports Cafe hours are M-F 5pm-8pm and Sat 10am-4pm.
Lighted tennis courts, lighted basketball courts, and lighted baseball diamonds.
Official City of Tustin website page for Tustin Sports Park
Nearest Public Library Branch: Irvine Katie Wheeler Public Library
Nearby “no TV” restaurants: Chik-Fil-A and In-n-Out are both nearby on Jamboree, but we often grab a sandwich from Sprouts Farmer’s Market deli and picnic at the park

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Playing ball, having fun: Participation declines nationwide, but softball remains a big deal locally !

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Burlington Recreation and Parks Department’s softball leagues have a strong tradition and continue to provide those seeking fitness an opportunity to play with others in the local community on several of the fields made available at City Park.
The department’s fall leagues kicked off Aug. 18 with 65 teams competing in several league categories. Recreation and Parks director Tony Laws has witnessed the evolution of softball league play since he started working for the department in 1968.
Laws said when he first came to work at the department there were softball leagues for men, women and churches. There were about 40 teams during that period in the late 1960s. The number grew to 150 softball teams during the next two decades.
Laws, who also is a state commissioner for North Carolina on the Amateur Softball Association, said beginning in the early ’90s the number of softball teams began to decline in Burlington, matching a nationwide trend. Fewer churches participated in the department’s leagues and the decline in companies, especially textile companies sponsoring teams, also played a part in the overall decline in the participation of softball.
“This was a textile town and every mill had at least one team,” Laws said. “The bigger mills had multiple men’s and women’s teams.”
How softball is strategically played has changed through the years as well.
Laws said composite softball bats replaced wooden bats. This placed less emphasis on defensive strategy because with composite bats players attempt to hit home runs on every swing.
Laws said the equipment used has outpaced players’ abilities to play the game. The composite bats made with synthetic materials increased ball speed coming off the bat and players sometimes have trouble making plays in the field.
“The defensive part has disappeared,” Laws said. “It’s an offensive game. Now, it’s just ‘see who can knock the ball over the fence.’ ”
Laws said a recent report issued by the Sporting Goods Manufacturers noted that participation in softball has declined nationwide in the past five years by one-third.
“That’s a big drop,” Laws said. “Lots of sports have peaks and valleys and right now softball is in the valley.”
According to Recreation and Parks athletics supervisor Jessica Hicks, the department’s girls’ fast-pitch league remains strong with high participation. Hicks said she believed this was due in part because colleges offer scholarships for girls’ fast-pitch softball, driving demand for girls’ fast-pitch softball leagues.
Hicks and Laws agreed that decline in softball leagues also has been driven by less emphasis on team sports. Hicks said many opt to participate in sports that are individualistic such as running, or extreme sports including rock climbing.
Laws said the Baby Boomer generation helped spur the popularity of softball in the ’70s and ’80s and they are now not as active in the sport. The current generation of youth is more into playing electronic games and staying indoors, he said.

The leagues currently offered by the department include men’s softball, co-ed softball, Friday night church softball and girls’ leagues. The department also offers women’s softball leagues, but there weren’t enough teams to form a league for women in the fall.
Hicks said the women’s softball league will return in the spring. Most league members are from Burlington and Alamance County with a few players coming from Durham, Chapel Hill and Greensboro to participate this fall.
Burlington will serve as host for an Amateur Softball Association (ASA) men’s senior slow-pitch national tournament at City Park during Labor Day weekend.
Laws said Burlington first held a national softball tournament in 1966. There was a break in the city’s being host of national tournaments until 1979, and since then the city has been host to national softball tournaments almost every year.
The department’s fall league will continue through October with softball games played every week. Laws said softball games today are watched mostly by those connected directly to the games, including family members.
“Softball in its heyday was a big spectator sport,” Laws said. “People just came out for the entertainment value.”
Laws said it wasn’t uncommon to see spectators with no connection to the teams come out to watch. Laws said there were really good teams then that people just wanted to see.

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Ballfield – Post-Season Renovations, part 2 – Beacon Athletics

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Courtesy Beacon Athletics -
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It’s August and daylight is on the wane. The sun is coming up later and setting earlier. We are beginning to see a cool night make an appearance on occasion. And many baseball and softball seasons have wrapped up for the year. There will be some fall ball seasons played but football season will take the lead by the end of the month. That means many ball fields are done for the season so it’s time to get to it and get those fields ready for next spring.

Last month we talked about getting the grass back into shape after the season as well as dealing with any lip issues that may have developed during the season. Now, we move to the infield skin itself. This time of year is the best time to do any renovation on the infield skin whether it is minor or major. You have plenty of time to work on it without the threat of an opening day deadline and much more favorable weather and soil moisture conditions.

A season can take a toll on an infield resulting in ragged turf edges and high and low spots in the infield skin. Reestablish your turf edges by running string lines and scribing arcs to mark out where you need the turf edges trimmed back to in order to give the field some crisp, clean edges. If you find that trimming your baselines or infield edges are making those skinned areas too large, you may have to consider placing a strip of new sod in along the edges in order to reduce the width of the baselines or the size of the infield. This is usually inevitable over time where cool season grasses are grown. Southern grasses will grow much more aggressively into the skin areas and therefore trimming edges is a more frequent task where they are grown.

With the lips removed from your field and crisp clean edges reestablished, you can now use a string line to evaluate the condition of the surface grade of your infield skin. By stretching a string line from the front turf edge to the back turf edge of an infield, we can instantly see the condition of the surface grade of the infield skin. High spots will push the string up while low areas will leave a gap between the string line and the infield soil surface. When checking the grade, make sure that the string line is pulled as tightly as possible otherwise the line may sag providing incorrect readings of the surface grade. Take a survey of the infield by running string lines in several locations around the skin to check for the amount and magnitude of high and low areas on the skin. In general, high areas will typically occur on the first and third base corners of a baseball infield skin as well as along the back edge along the back arc. Low areas will commonly occur in leadoff areas around bases, fielder’s positions and the front edges of the infield skin.

It is important to rectify these issues as soon as possible as these imperfections in the surface grade of your skin areas can create major headaches in rainy weather when you are trying to drain the field. IF you are lucky, you have the budget to call in a sports field contractor to repair the surface grade and improve its performance. If not, this work can be done on a low budget basis by doing it the old fashioned way, by running string lines and using your nail drag, rakes and level boards to manipulate the surface by cutting the highs and filling the lows to achieve a smooth and consistent surface grade.

If you have historically had problems with the performance of your infield soil, an Infield Soil Test can be performed to look at the physical makeup of your soil. A test will expose any weaknesses in the make-up of your infield soil — Beacon can provide this service to you, contact us for more info. With the innovation of DuraEdge™ and FieldSaver™ “engineered infield soils” in the past decade, it has become easier and financially effective to fix most problem infield soils without pulling out the old soil in most cases. The late summer and fall season is a great time to make adjustments to your infield soil using these materials. A balanced infield soil and the perfect grade will provide you the ultimate playing surface.

Finally, I’d like to mention a common question I get here at Beacon. Customers will often call to ask me how to keep weeds out of their infields and warning tracks. You can spray Roundup (Glyphosate) or other non-selective herbicides onto these areas but more than likely the weeds will return. The best way to prevent weeds on an infield skin or warning track is to continue maintaining the surface by dragging it about twice a week. This should be done throughout the remainder of the growing season. It will also keep the field smooth for surface drainage. There really is no other magic way of suppressing those weeds

COMING NEXT MONTH: WE’LL FINISH UP WITH RENOVATION TO MOUND AND HOME PLATE AREAS

Project Services Group

– Paul Zwaska is the former head groundskeeper for the Baltimore Orioles; You can learn more at Groundskeeper University.

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