The SODA Blog

The official blog of the Sportsplex Operators & Developers Association

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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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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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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It’s Never To Late – Save Your Program Money !
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BEACON Ballfields Exclusive Weekly Tips ! ( October ’17 ) !

October 9, 2017       |    BeaconAthletics.com     |    Ballfields.com

THIS WEEK’S FIELD TIP

As the person in charge of buying your sports field maintenance products, you are probably naturally drawn toward selecting the lowest-priced product available. After all, who doesn’t love a deal?  I get that. We’re all on limited budgets, but I want to look at the down-the-road impact those decisions can have on your sports fields.

It’s easy to think you’re making a sound financial decision when you purchase the cheapest product, but that’s because you’re only considering the short term cost. The impact a low-cost product can have on your grounds crew or on your field is eye opening. Often, when people see a big upfront cost, they shut down that product from further consideration — without doing their due diligence to see if it’s worth the price in the long haul.

That’s a mistake, and I’ll show you why. Let me give some real world examples from our experience at our 3-field Little League complex in Madison, Wisconsin… CONTINUE READING this article at Ballfields.com:  The Real Cost of Sports Field Maintenance Products

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

Regulation Economy Pitching Rubber
— SAVE $10

IN STOCK: Ships within 24 hours!  Heavy-duty molded rubber with 3 metal spikes. — Reg. $29  NOW $19 (valid for regulation size only thru October 31)

Hollywood 4-sided Pitching Rubber — SAVE $30

IN STOCK: Ships within 24 hours!  Heavy-duty rubber cover with aluminum tube insert. Regulation pitching rubber (6″ x 6″ x 24″). — Reg. $129  NOW $99 (valid thru October 31)

OPEN BOX ITEM OF THE WEEK

OPEN BOX Item — FieldShield Area Tarp, Weighted Hem — SAVE $74!  — Goodbye, sandbags. No need for bags, pins, or weights. Made in the USA, high-quality mound covers and home plate tarps. Only one size remains, 8oz, 18′ diameter… Like-new condition. Only one left. First come, first served! FieldShield Area Tarp, Weighted Hem

Great Deals for October!

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 October 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.

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It’s Never To Late – Save Your Program Money !
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The Real Cost of Sports Field Maintenance Products !

Streamliner field chalkerAs the person in charge of buying your sports field maintenance products, you are probably naturally drawn toward selecting the lowest-priced product available. After all, who doesn’t love a deal?  I get that. We’re all on limited budgets, but I want to look at the down-the-road impact those decisions can have on your sports fields.

It’s easy to think you’re making a sound financial decision when you purchase the cheapest product, but that’s because you’re only considering the short term cost. The impact a low-cost product can have on your grounds crew or on your field is eye opening. Often, when people see a big upfront cost, they shut down that product from further consideration — without doing their due diligence to see if it’s worth the price in the long haul.  That’s a mistake, and I’ll show you why.

Let me give some real world examples from our experience at our 3-field Little League complex in Madison, Wisconsin.

EXAMPLE 1 — Mound Clay

beaconOf the three fields at our complex, one is a 90’ diamond used by youth aged 13 – 16 years old, all of whom wear metal cleats. Games are played 7 days a week (2-to-3 games/weeknight and 5-to-7 games/weekend), 20 weeks per year and only one opportunity per day to maintain the mound and batter’s boxes. We have used standard bagged mound clay for years and usually blew through one half to one bag of clay per day. The mounds are kept sufficiently moist and are covered whenever not in use to maintain moisture content. The standard mound clay performed satisfactorily, and I never received any complaints except from my crew repairing them. This year we decided to try professional grade clay with higher clay content and the most expensive of all mound clays on our field where metal cleats are used. The results were astounding. The amount of damage to the clay areas each night decreased by more than 70%!! The amount of clay required to repair the mound and plate also plummeted by approximately the same amount as well. In addition, we saved tremendously with labor due to the reduction of repair needed. In the end, we had less labor costs in repairing the clay areas because of the reduced wear and we needed far less clay to repair when we did. We anticipate that we can reduce our clay consumption by at least 50% for next year. These savings far outpaced the increase in cost for the product AND we actually provided a better and more stable playing surface for the player!

EXAMPLE 2 — Pitching Rubbers

Pitching rubbers and home plates in recent decades have had their rubber ingredients tweaked as costs for raw materials have increased during that time. The result is product that just doesn’t last or perform like those from a few decades back, and need to be replaced more often. Sure, they are cheap or more affordable but they wear, bubble or deform much more quickly. The problem is that it’s not always easy to do a quick change of either of these on a ball diamond. Especially if one doesn’t do it frequently or has never done it before. So labor hours are sacrificed in order to change them out each time. Compare that to the high quality Bulldog home plates and pitching rubbers that are thicker rubber and structurally more sound. People shy away from them due to their cost, but their longevity and performance far outweigh the upfront cost of the product. Plus, you also save considerably on labor since replacement is needed less frequently. To me, it’s a no-brainer.

EXAMPLE 3 — Dry Line Markers (chalkers) 

beaconThere are many chalkers on the market, both cheap and  expensive. Again, many customers look at the price tag without ever considering performance and potential savings. The Streamliner Dry Line marker is one of the more expensive dry line markers on the market, yet you can save big money with this machine despite the price tag. Thanks to the Streamliners “variable flow adjustment”, you can control how much chalk you are applying to the field. Most chalkers are either open or closed and offer no other adjustments. Because of the Streamliner’s ability to control chalk flow, customers routinely report a 30% to 50% reduction of chalk, resulting in huge savings in chalk purchases over the life of a Streamliner. Additionally, the quality of the line applied is unparalleled in the industry. Again the extra dollars on the initial investment amounts to huge savings in the long haul, with all the benefits of performance.
These are just a few select examples of what I’ve seen during my time as a groundskeeper. The moral of the story is one you’ve heard before –you get what you pay for. Do your due diligence when considering ALL of your equipment and material purchases. It is your job and obligation as Sports Field MANAGERS to manage your budgets in the most efficient way possible to provide the best return on investment for your organization. Do the math, do the research, collect and analyze the data, and THEN make the purchase. The most expensive product is not always the solution and won’t always fit your application. There are times that a moderately- or low-priced product absolutely makes more sense than a higher priced or higher quality product. This is where your research and data will flush that point out.

Money is a terrible thing to waste… do your best to do it right the first time.

— Paul Z.

Paul Zwaska

Paul Zwaska

A former head groundskeeper for the Baltimore Orioles, Paul graduated from the University of Wisconsin in 1984 with a Bachelor’s in Soil Science with a specialty in Turf & Grounds Management. Paul took over as head groundskeeper for the Orioles’ final season at old Memorial Stadium in Baltimore and then was heavily involved throughout the design and construction phases of Oriole Park at Camden Yards which debuted on April 4, 1992. Paul has led Technical Sales Support at Beacon Athletics since the summer of 2000. In 2012, Paul authored and oversaw the launch of “Groundskeeper University”, the first online ballfield maintenance training venue. Over the years, Paul has donated thousands of hours working with West Madison Little League, which also plays a critical role in the research and development for many of Beacon’s innovative field maintenance tools.

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Sabres ramp up the culinary delights at KeyBank Center !

FOOD, GLORIOUS FOOD !

Executive Chef Stephen Forman

1

Sabres ramp up the culinary delights at KeyBank Center

By Andrew Kulyk and Peter Farrell

Anyone remembering the old days at Memorial Auditorium surely recalls three escalator rides to ferry up to the orange balcony seats way at the top of the building. And right there, steps off that escalator, was a long and narrow concession service stand lining the wall. The choices were popcorn, nachos drenched in cheese, hot dogs, soda pop, and beer. Sportservice was the concessionaire, and the food, to be polite, wasn’t all that great. Classic arena dreck was the appropriate description.

How far the game day food experience has changed.

Today it’s all about food. Ballpark food. Specialty items. Craft beer. Fine wines. Locally sourced products and ingredients. And of course, revenue streams for the host teams looking to greet their patrons hungry and then leave them satiated.

Mediterranean Hummus Platter

This week, the Buffalo Sabres unveiled their updated concession lineup, in preparation for Thursday’s home opener against the Montreal Canadiens. The team has pulled all stops in presenting an exciting array of menu items, sandwiches, and upscale meal experiences to entice just about any fan at the game.

“Ten, twenty years ago fans came to the game just to watch what was going on down on the ice. Now it’s so many other things, concessions, different beverages, arena entertainment. Now there’s so much in more coming to a game, the apps and social media, all that stuff. And the food being done by Sportservice is all a part of that,” explains Sabres Senior Vice President Mike Gilbert.

Sportservice. That’s the food subsidiary behemoth run by locally headquartered Delaware North Corporation. That company is the concessionaire for literally hundreds of sports venues around the world, and Gilbert readily admits that the Sabres organization gleans ideas and information from peer arenas around the league to see what works and what is popular around the rest of the league. “It’s something we do all the time. Delaware North, they are the experts, they run around the world with their business. But we bounce ideas off them all the time to see what fits our fans needs and wants,” said Gilbert.

Executive Chef Stephen Forman is the guiding hand overseeing the new creations, working with a team of sous chefs and culinary personnel, which translates into a small army. Forman wasted no time in rolling out some of his new creations that fans can expect to see on the concession marquees this season. “Our signature item is ‘The Enforcer’, an Italian sausage served on a Costanzo roll, topped with pulled Buffalo chicken, blue cheese slaw and bbq sauce,” said Forman.

“We feel our customers coming in will enjoy the variety of food we have to offer. We want people to understand it’s more than peanuts, hot dogs and pretzels.”

The new sandwich offerings are plentiful… taking the mainstay Buffalo bologna and onions to a new level is the Bologna Po Boy, served with slaw and Weber’s mustard. There’s Moe’s Hawaiian Burger, grilled pineapple, pickled jalapeno and red pepper, peppered bacon, American cheese and sriracha mayo. “We named it after the creator, Moe, who is one of our club level concessionaires,” said Forman.

The Cowboy Burger in front and Moe’s Hawaiian Burger in back

And this year, there will be a mac and cheese stand, offering the creamy concoction topped with a variety of choices, including bbq pulled pork or teriyaki meatballs.

Fans on the club level will find a new concession area titled “Our Eats”, featuring food items with a Buffalo flair. On the menu are half a rotisserie chicken marinated in Chiavetta’s sauce, Buffalo chicken wings, pretzels dipped with Genesee craft cheddar beer sauce, and for the sweet tooth, Ru’s apple pierogi with caramel stout drizzle.

Andy Altemore is the food and beverage director at KeyBank Center, and realizes the importance of food diversity and quality as an important component of the game night experience. “The demand of the customer is changing. The more informed they are about food, the more they want to try different things. It’s on their phones, it’s on their TV’s. The fan experience is changing to more than just the game.”

There are unique food items staged in various other cities in their sports facilities. Mention Pittsburgh and the famed Primanti Brothers sandwich comes to mind. In Kansas City, it’s their barbecue. Florida has the Cuban sandwich. In Green Bay and Milwaukee, it’s all about their signature bratwursts and cheese. We already know that Beef on Weck and wings are Buffalo’s gastronomic gifts to the world.

So we asked Altemore, name one item on the KeyBank Center concession menu which the out of town visitor just has to try. “No doubt, it’s ‘The Enforcer’” Altermore replied. “That’s our signature which our chef put out to headline our list of items.”

The Enforcer

One tradition popping up on menus elsewhere which Buffalo refused to emulate was that signature monster sandwich. Some creative chef puts together a monster sandwich with eight or so burgers, slathers in five different cheeses, adds crazy ingredients like peanut butter and jelly, piles on the bacon, of course, and then garnished with lettuce and tomato so we don’t feel guilty–a belly buster containing 5000 calories. Add on a $35 price tag and the sports blogs have a field day.

“I’ve seen and heard about the ‘Burgerizza’ in Atlanta, for example,” said Altermore. (For those who don’t know, this is a one pound burger sandwiched in between two cheese and pepperoni personal pan pizzas, available at SunTrust Park in Atlanta). “We don’t have anything like that on our menu. We want items that fans can easily take back to their seats and consume without difficulty.”

So this season raise a glass of craft brew, enjoy The Enforcer, and toast the old days of boiled hot dogs served up on stale buns. If the team on the ice is a good as the food offerings in the concourses and club lounges at KeyBank Center, come this spring we’ll be watching live hockey in May.

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BEACON Ballfields Exclusive Weekly Tips ! ( October ’17 ) !

October 2, 2017     |     BeaconAthletics.com     |    Ballfields.com

THIS WEEK’S FIELD TIP

Everything you need to lay out your ballfield like a pro.

In our exclusive Ballfield Dimensions & Reference Guide you’ll find everything you need for how to layout your baseball diamond or softball field. From determining how much space you’ll need to tips for how to layout your field with regards to the sun’s angle at the time of day most games are played, we have answers. There’s also how-to’s and step-by-step information for things like setting base anchors or building a warning track. When it comes to figuring out your soil needs you’ll learn about soil tests, the various soil entities, and more. There’s even a series of time-saving calculators for estimating infield soil needs and how much soil is in your stockpile.

This handy, colorful format of this printed version makes it a snap to see diagrams and measurement tables at the same time (see photos). You can take this critical info right out onto the field and have it all at your fingertips. Get your copy today at:  Ballfield Dimensions & Reference Guide or reference the online version at ballfields.com.

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

TUFFdeck On-Deck Circles — SAVE $50

IN STOCK: Ships within 24 hours!  Go ahead, use metal spikes. They sink in and wedge between the mini-coin pattern surface for added traction. PVC surface protects graphics. Durable surface cleans up easily with soap and water. Great for team branding or sponsorships. Sold individually.  — Reg. $599 – $999  NOW $549 – $949 (valid for “It’s a Great Day” 4′, 5′ or 6′, softball 5′ or baseball 5′ thru October 31)

Orange Mushroom Plug — SAVE $2.50

IN STOCK: Ships within 24 hours!  Use on ground anchors when bases are not in use. Prevents dirt buildup around stake and inside sleeve. Sold as single plug. — Reg. $7  NOW $5.50 (valid for orange mushroom plug only thru October 31)

OPEN BOX ITEM OF THE WEEK

OPEN BOX Item — 3×7 Softball Batter’s Box Liner — SAVE $195!  — Batter’s box liner, easy to use. Only the softball 3′ x 7′ remains… Brand-new condition. Only one left. First come, first served! Batter’s Box Liner

Great Deals for October!

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 October 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.

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It’s Never To Late – Save Your Program Money !
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New playground opens at South Anchorage Sports Park !

ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) A place to play without limits. After years of planning, an all inclusive playground in South Anchorage is open.

From sensory sensitivity to mobile disabilities, the playground at the South Anchorage Sports Park is a completely custom design.

“It’s actually been under construction since 2015,” Maeve Nevins Lavtar, the project manager said.

It doesn’t matter if you’re three or 30, finding a place to swing, spin and climb is hard to resist.

“That feeling that we don’t have to keep looking over our backs and that ability to go from bike riding to climbing, sliding, swings, it’s nice to have everything,” Andria Semmler said.

Semmler traveled in with a group of moms and toddlers from Eagle River Wednesday to check out the city’s newest park.

The park officially opened on Tuesday, “It’s so different than any other park we have in Anchorage and the kids seem to really love it,” Kasey Callison said.

The playground is an all inclusive design. “It’s a playground for everyone to come to,” Lavtar said.

From the ADA accessible parking lot, to the circular path and every piece of equipment — this is a space specifically designed for those with disabilities in mind.

A giant red rope mountain, standing two stories high is in the center of the playground. Lavtar said the design is inspired by Ptarmigan Peak, which can be seen on a clear day at the park.

The park features green domes called crazy cocoons.

They’re a space for children in need of a break. “A lot of children, especially when they have autism, with this much activity they can feel anxiety so they can go in there and get there time out and feel like they’re getting a hug in a nice safe place,” Lavtar said.

A modern, double level merry-go-round is the only one of its kind in the country. The turf that blankets the park comes with a shock absorber built underneath.

A double slide with rollers and benches at the bottom seemed to be the most popular piece of equipment on Wednesday.

Lavtar said the slide is different than most,”in this playground it puts them on a level playing fields so they’re able to race each other.”

The playground is only one phase of projects coming to the sports park.

Lavtar said, new LED lighting, asphalt upgrades, two dog parks and a nearly one-mile trail are also part of the improvements included in this portion.

The park is open from 7:00 a.m. until 10:00 p.m. daily.

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The Hitter, The Pitcher, and You !

 

“A groundskeeper’s goal is to allow hitters and pitchers to focus on their job at hand and not worry about the surface beneath them…”

We are all groundskeepers and turfgrass managers at many different levels of baseball. All of us – myself included – spend a great deal of time working on how to grow grass and manage infield dirt to achieve the highest level of playability possible on our fields. However, the reality is that in baseball the most important aspect of the game is the interaction, the confrontation, of the hitter and the pitcher. That pitch-by-pitch matchup is what drives the game. Everything else follows in its path.

Recently, I was fortunate to be part of a conference call that included Dr. Trey Rogers from Michigan State University. He stated that one of the first things he tells his students is there is not one perfect turfgrass. I agree, Dr. Rogers is 100% correct in his assessment. So let me offer this to you: when it comes to mound and home plate clay, there is not one perfect type of clay. Beacon Athletics makes a great effort to offer the finest bagged clay options on the market. Over the past two decades I have sampled clay from pretty much every major distributor in the country. We are fortunate that there are many quality options available regionally and nationally when it comes to mound and plate clay. The variables that impact these products are climate and weather.

“Climate” refers to the general meteorological trends in your area. “Weather” is about what is happening where you are right now. Some products perform better in moist conditions while others are more suited for a drier climate. Regardless of the product, I feel it is important to stock the clay that is ready to use in a few different ways. Going into a home stand, have a supply that is moist and ready to go, some with a moderate amount of moisture, and some that is very fine and screened but slightly on the dry side. This will allow you to have options from day to day when evaluating weather conditions as you work those areas. On a dry and sunny day, you can use the wetter clay to pack the mound and plate, then let the sun bake it a bit, letting it set prior to putting the tarp back on. If you have a cloudy and humid day, the drier clay will perform fine as you pack it into a moist base.

When a hitter steps into the batter’s box and a pitcher sets himself on the pitching rubber, our goal as groundskeepers is to allow them to focus on their job at hand and not worry about the surface beneath them. When it comes to these areas, think moist and very firm. Provide a surface that allows the player to get his feet settled in and get to work. The pitcher needs to focus on the catcher’s glove, and the hitter needs to find the release point of the pitcher and focus on the baseball. We do not want them worrying about the clay beneath them at that point. But what about the overall context of the environment for both the hitter and the pitcher? What is that like and what can we do to improve it as groundskeepers?

Any pitcher likes to feel as if he is right on top of the hitter. The stature of the mound itself plays a role, as does the proximity of the backstop wall to home plate. As a pitcher, you like to step on a mound with a properly sized and level table to work from. You also want to feel as if the slope is to specifications or steeper. A flat slope is a very discouraging thing to encounter in the first inning of a ballgame. The height of the mound in relation to home plate can vary greatly from one field to the next. This is due to the grade of the turfgrass between the mound and the plate in many cases. At the major league level, many fields have infield grass areas that are perfectly flat, which produces a 10” high mound that is a consistent 10” above the turfgrass and above home plate. This is an excellent way to have a quality infield if you have a sand-based root zone with properly designed drainage. One grading concept to consider for your turf is to have the 10-12 ft wide area of turfgrass from the mound to the plate level, while grading the rest of the infield turf with a slight slope for rain runoff. The physical makeup of the root zone would need to have acceptable drainage characteristics for this to work, as that area is prone to traffic and compaction.

With regard to the backstop, the worst visual feeling for a pitcher is to see a clear, chain link fence behind his catcher. You feel as if home plate is 75 feet away in that case. Wherever your backstop fence may be, a pitcher likes a solid, dark wall pad in the background … the closer to the catcher the better.

The biggest home plate mistake many in the turf industry see on fields in the community is when the entire circle is graded like a dinner plate. Your goal should be for the batter’s and catcher’s boxes to be level with the turfgrass edge in front of home plate. There are two main reasons for this. First, the catcher should be able to feel he is on level ground receiving pitches and when coming up to throw. A catcher popping up to throw out a base stealer does not want to be throwing uphill, which can cause the ball to sail a bit. Second, as a hitter you want to see level dirt and turf in front of you if at all possible. Hitting from a sunken batter’s box against a pitcher high above you is not fun. As I mentioned earlier, anything we can do to help the player be more relaxed and comfortable, the better they can focus on the ball and perform well.

Finally, a word about the batter’s eye in center field. I was extremely fortunate that at my high school in the San Francisco area, the hitter’s backdrop in center field consisted of mature redwood trees. The dense evergreen growth of those trees provided an optimal batter’s eye for us as hitters. It is always unfortunate to see a field where the hitter’s backdrop is random houses or buildings of neutral colors. For the game to be played at its optimal level, hitters should have a clean, dark, solid backdrop beyond center field to help them track the baseball out of the pitcher’s hand. While a grove of evergreen trees may not always be an option, the staff at Beacon can provide you with options for a batter’s eye backdrop that will greatly improve your facility.

I hope some of these ideas are helpful and you can continue the good work you all do improving your facilities.

Larry Divito

Larry Divito

As head groundskeeper for the Minnesota Twins Baseball Club, Larry DiVito has worked in professional baseball for 23 years. Beginning as the head groundskeeper for the AAA Pawtucket Red Sox in 1995, Larry moved to Dodger Stadium in 2002 as assistant groundskeeper. After four seasons with the Dodgers, he was named head groundskeeper for the Washington Nationals in 2006. In his three seasons there, Larry was involved with the building of Nationals Park, which opened in 2008. He moved to Minnesota in 2009 to be a contributor with the construction of Target Field, which he helped open for the Twins in 2010. As a member of the Sports Turf Managers Association, Larry spent three years on the STMA Board of Directors from 2008-10.

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

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”

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

September 18, 2017   |   BeaconAthletics.com    |   Ballfields.com

THIS WEEK’S FIELD TIP

 “A groundskeeper’s goal is to allow hitters and pitchers to focus on their job at hand and not worry about the surface beneath them…”

We are all groundskeepers and turfgrass managers at many different levels of baseball. All of us – myself included – spend a great deal of time working on how to grow grass and manage infield dirt to achieve the highest level of playability possible on our fields. However, the reality is that in baseball the most important aspect of the game is the interaction, the confrontation, of the hitter and the pitcher. That pitch-by-pitch matchup is what drives the game. Everything else follows in its path.

Recently, I was fortunate to be part of a conference call that included Dr. Trey Rogers from Michigan State University. He stated that one of the first things he tells his students is there is not one perfect turfgrass. I agree, Dr. Rogers is 100% correct in his assessment. So let me offer this to you: when it comes to mound and home plate clay, there is not one perfect type of clay. Beacon Athletics makes a great effort to offer the finest bagged clay options on the market. Over the past two decades I have sampled clay from pretty much every major distributor in the country. We are fortunate that there are many quality options available regionally and nationally when it comes to mound and plate clay. The variables that impact these products are climate and weather… Continue reading this article from Minnesota Twins head groundskeeper Larry DiVito on Ballfields.comThe Hitter, The Pitcher, and You

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

ProFlex Hose — SAVE $36-$56

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. — Reg. $175 – $285  NOW $139 – $229 (valid for 50′ or 100′ thru September 30)

Deluxe Fast Retrieve Measuring Tape — SAVE up to $26

IN STOCK: Ships within 24 hours!  Ultra-fast rewind is three times as fastwith metal planetary gearing — no more stripped gears. No stretch with double-nylon coated steel blade. High-visibility orange polycarbonate case. Limited lifetime warranty.  — Reg. $55-135 NOW $45-109 (valid for 100′, 200′, or 300′ thru September 30)

OPEN BOX ITEM OF THE WEEK

OPEN BOX Item — 3×7 Softball Batter’s Box Liner — SAVE $195!  — Batter’s box liner, easy to use. Only the softball 3′ x 7′ remains… Brand-new condition. Only one left. First come, first served! Batter’s Box Liner

Great Deals for September!

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 September 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

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

PlanFinalGuideAd

“Proudly Serving The USA/Canada Since 1981”

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